Recycling is processing used material
Material is anything made of matter, constituted of one or more substances. Wood, cement, hydrogen, air and water are all examples of materials. Sometimes the term "material" is used more narrowly to refer to substances or components with certain physical properties that are used as inputs to...

s (waste
Waste is unwanted or useless materials. In biology, waste is any of the many unwanted substances or toxins that are expelled from living organisms, metabolic waste; such as urea, sweat or feces. Litter is waste which has been disposed of improperly...

) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration
Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and...

) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

 emissions as compared to virgin production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce
Waste minimisation
Waste minimization is the process and the policy of reducing the amount of waste produced by a person or a society.Waste minimization involves efforts to minimize resource and energy use during manufacture. For the same commercial output, usually the fewer materials are used, the less waste is...

, Reuse
To reuse is to use an item more than once. This includes conventional reuse where the item is used again for the same function, and new-life reuse where it is used for a different function. In contrast, recycling is the breaking down of the used item into raw materials which are used to make new...

, Recycle" waste hierarchy
Waste hierarchy
The waste hierarchy refers to the 3 Rs of reduce, reuse, recycle, or and [ which classify waste management strategies according to their desirability. The Rs are meant to be a hierarchy, in order of importance...


There are some ISO standards relating to recycling such as ISO 15270:2008 for plastics waste and ISO 14001:2004 for environmental management control of recycling practice.

Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

, paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

, metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

, plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

, textile
A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

s, and electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...