What is recycling? - That's what it's all about and how it works.

Here you can find out what is behind recycling and how you can easily implement it. All the advantages and disadvantages of the recycling loop

What is recycling

Author: Lara-Sophie Buckow

What is recycling?

Recycling means the preparation and subsequent reuse of raw materials that have already been used. Recycling thus creates a cycle in which the material is repeatedly broken down into its individual pieces and then used for new products.

When it comes to recycling, a distinction is made between two processes: downcycling and upcycled..

  1. Downcyclingmeans that the raw material is not preserved in its original quality. A devaluation takes place, as for example with waste paper, plasticor old clothes. The materials can be recycled, i.e. reused. However, the individual fibres are shorter or brittle and thus do not represent the one hundred percent quality of a new raw material.
  2. upcycled.means the exact opposite. The products remain in their original form. These merely find a new purpose. You probably know bags made from old truck tarpaulin, clothes made from old coffee sacks or have seen glasses or vases made from old glass bottles at your friends'. An old product is turned into something new.

Recycling aims to reuse old materials to create something new. In this way, no new raw materials are needed and there is less waste. A cycle is created. You can find innovative upcycling examples of furniture here: Designers create aesthetic sustainability with upcycling furniture ideas. Why should you recycle too? Here are the top pros and cons:

Advantages of recycling:

  • Less resources are required, which protects the environment
  • The production of new products costs a lot of energy. High savings can be made here through recycling
  • The manufacture of new materials, especially in poorer countries, often has catastrophic effects on the environment due to the incorrect disposal of chemicals. These do not apply to the reuse of existing materials
  • In the optimal case, a closed cycle is created without waste or procurement of new raw materials

Disadvantages of recycling:

  • The original quality can no longer be fully achieved
  • Collection of individual waste directly from the consumer causes car gases that pollute the environment

Where does the recycling trend come from?

It may often seem like the process of recycling is a new trend. However, it has been around for many years. Not only your grandparents tried to reuse everything during the war due to a lack of goods and materials. In the Middle Ages, too, many things were recycled. Even human products such as hair or bones were used to make everyday objects. Recycling has its origins in agriculture. From the beginning, harvest residues, manure and slurry were used to fertilise the fields. From the beginning, every farmer was able to create a closed cycle within his own farm.

Today, for the most part, we no longer have resource scarcity that we notice in our everyday lives. However, recycling is now highly topical again. Society has become aware of how wasteful we have been in the last decades, harming ourselves and the planet. Recycling helps us to procure fewer raw materials and produce less waste.


Is there any point in recycling?

In Germany in particular, great importance is attached to the separation of different materials during disposal for later recycling. However, the Federal Environment Agency has found out that only one third of the waste is disposed of properly. This makes the process very difficult. Landfills cannot simply recycle the waste. Proper sorting costs a lot of time as well as money, which is why it often does not take place. This causes the waste of valuable resources. It is therefore important that every household separates its waste properly so that recycling can take place.

The preconception that sorting waste is useless anyway because it ends up being incinerated is not true. The dual systems in Germany make it possible for materials that can be recycled to be reused. Only residual waste is incinerated in Germany. According to the Öko-Institut the amount of residual waste in Germany fell by a total of 57% from 1990 to 2014. At the same time, the recycling of recyclable materials has increased 3.5-fold. So the topic of recycling is gaining momentum. Today, more and more companies are relying on the use of recycled materials. materials. This gives the materials that once ended up in your trash a new life.

Source & Copyright Bavarian State Ministry for Environment and Consumption

Recycling cycle: this is how recycling works

Before you throw something away, think about whether you can make something new out of it yourself and upcycle it yourself. Simply sew over clothes if they no longer fit properly, or create your own blanket or bag from individual pieces that are no longer worn. Use old cans as pen holders or flower pots. Just repaint that old chest of drawers and add second-hand handles to give it a new shine. There are endless possibilities to create something new as well as useful out of your old things.

If you can no longer use it, make sure that it is properly sorted. Glass is sorted by color and disposed of in the glass container. Cardboard and paper go into the waste paper bin. Packaging made of plastic, metal or composite materials belongs in the yellow sack or bin. In addition, it is very helpful for the recycling process if you separate different packaging materials from one another. This makes sorting easier later in the landfill within the automatic sorting.

You can dispose of organic waste either in your compost at home or in the organic waste bin. Take electronic devices to the recycling centre, where they can be dismantled into their individual parts and reused. Since 2016, shops that sell new electrical appliances have also had to accept old appliances and recycle them. If you are unsure how to properly dispose of a product so that it enters the recycling loop, you can visit the initiative of the dual systems.

Recycling works and is easier than you think

Every beginning is difficult, but it is very important that we deal with our behavior as consumers. In addition to buying sustainable and long-lasting products, correct disposal and recycling after use are also part of this. Deal with the topic bit by bit. Ask friends and acquaintances how they deal with recycling and learn from each other. This makes the whole thing a lot more fun and you make an important contribution to the circular economy.


Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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