Other FAQs

Other FAQs

Why is recycling important?

Recycling is important for several reasons.

  • Recycling conserves natural resources. Some of these resources such as oil, natural gas and minerals are non-renewable resources. Simply put, they don’t get replaced as we pull them out of the ground. Once they are gone, they’re gone forever.
  • Recycling conserves landfill space. Landfill space will last longer if we only put items that are not recyclable into them. It is extremely expensive to build a modern landfill and we need to be careful how much and how fast we fill them up.
  • Recycling employs people. Recycling employs people who a) collect the recyclable material, b) process the material or get it ready to sell to a manufacturer, c) transport the materials to factories where it will be turned into new products, d) take the material and manufacture it into new products, e) manufacture equipment and products used by the recycling industry, and f) manage local, state and federal government recycling programs and private and non-profit recycling programs.
  • Recycling conserves energy. Without question, recycling conserves the energy that would be necessary to create the same product from its raw resource.
  • Recycling reduces our dependence on overseas natural resources. This is important in two very important ways, a) it reduces our dependence on overseas oil and gas which has national security implications, and b) it reduces our foreign trade deficit which is important to the strength of our economy.

What does the recycling symbol with the three chasing arrows represent?

The recycling symbol with the three arrows represents the three steps in the recycling process. These steps are as follows:

  • Collection and processing of recyclable materials,
  • Manufacturing of those materials into new products, and
  • Purchasing the new products by consumers who then start the process over again.

Click here on History of the Recycling Symbol to view detailed information about how this symbol came about.

What are some items around the home that can be recycled?

aluminum & steel cans


corrugated boxes

telephone books

plastic bottles

glass bottles

used motor oil

large appliances

rechargeable batteries

automotive batteries

automotive tires


yard & food waste


cell phones

How does the U. S. municipal solid waste generation rate and recycling rate compare with other countries?
The United States leads the industrialized world in municipal solid waste generation, with each person in the United States currently generating on average 4.5 pounds of waste per day. Canada and the Netherlands come in second and third, with 3.75 and 3 pounds per person per day, respectively. Germany and Sweden generate the least amount of waste per capita for industrialized nations, with just under 2 pounds per person per day. The United States, however, also leads the industrialized world in recycling. The United States recycled 24 percent of its waste in the 1990's. Switzerland and Japan came in second and third, recycling 23 percent and 20 percent of their discard stream, respectively.

Q & A courtesy of the United States EPA.

What are some things business or industry can do to get started in recycling and solid waste reduction?

  • Recognize what are some of the major materials going into the garbage compactor, dumpster or roll-off. Most often it is corrugated boxes, office paper, pallets, scrap metal and industrial plastics.
  • Search for a market for each of these materials. The Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program staff at MDEQ can assist businesses and industries in this.
  • After starting a program for collecting, storing and marketing these materials, begin to monitor the garbage disposal. Is the garbage dumpster or roll-off full when the garbage contractor comes to make a pull on the unit? If not, consider reducing the size or frequency of pickup of these garbage dumpsters. Companies should see a reduction in the number of pulls on the compactor as well. These will be where the true savings can be found in implementing an commercial/industrial recycling program.

Why is it that some people do not recycle?

Comments most often used by people who don’t recycle include:

  • Takes too much time out of their day,
  • Inconvenient,
  • Too many other things to do,
  • Don’t have enough recyclable materials at home,
  • Forget the recycling pickup day and
  • Don’t know what to recycle.

Those that do recycle say that once in the habit, it becomes part of the daily activities. Finally, many people do not see recyclables as resources for new products but as trash to be placed in their garbage can. Education is the key if we are to make recycling a success in our communities and state.

What products are made from recyclable materials?

Aluminum cans are melted down and recycled into new aluminum cans and other products made from aluminum.

Steel cans are melted down and recycled into new steel cans and other products made of steel.

Newspapers, corrugated boxes and telephone books are re-pulped and made into newsprint, corrugated boxes, cereal boxes, cellulose insulation, paper egg cartons, and ceiling tiles.

Glass bottles are crushed, melted, and recycled into more glass bottles, or used along with sand and gravel in asphalt roads.

Plastic bottles such as soft drink and water bottles are ground up, washed, and melted to produce fiber for carpeting and clothing.

Plastic bottles such as milk, shampoo, and detergent bottles are ground up, washed, and melted to produce plastic parts for automobiles, plastic lumber, and other plastic products.

Used motor oil is generally burned for fuel as an alternative energy resource in industrial facilities.

Automobile scrap tires are generally chipped and burned as a fuel in place of or in addition to coal. Scrap tires are also manufactured into numerous rubber products including rubber mats and bumpers.

Yard and food waste can be composted in the backyard. Since the compost contains plenty of nitrogen and other organic nutrients, it is great in gardens and flower beds.

Where can I find grants to help establish community recycling programs?

MDEQ has several different grant programs that communities can apply for to help in establishing or expanding recycling and recycling education programs. These grants can be used to establish a curbside or drop-off recycling program, purchase equipment for processing recyclable materials, establish scrap tire and white goods collection programs, develop a recycling education program, and provide for 50% of the salary of an environmental enforcement officer. To learn more about these grants, click here on Solid Waste and Tire Grants. In addition to the MDEQ grants, the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation has $10,000 in competitive grants available to K-12 schools each year in the state for establishing or expanding recycling programs. Click here on Weyerhaeuser Grants to view information on these grants.

Click here on Starting A Recycling Program to find out more detailed information on establishing a community or other type of recycling program. Contact our program for assistance in developing a recycling and solid waste reduction program.

How do I establish an office recycling program?

Whether it is an office program, community, school or other type of recycling program, first determine what materials are to be recycled. These generally include corrugated boxes, office paper, aluminum cans, laser and ink-jet printer cartridges, computers/electronics, rechargeable batteries and telephone books. The Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program staff at MDEQ can assist in finding recycling vendors that will accept a wide range of materials. Our program can also provide professional looking color signs that can be used at collection sites for various recyclables. We also highly suggest that someone in the office monitor the garbage dumpster for the first month after starting up a program. A full scale recycling program can reduce the quantities of materials going into the garbage dumpster by 40 to 60%. After the recycling program is established, reduce the size of the garbage dumpster or the frequency of pickup. This is where the actual savings occur when a recycling program is established.

Click here on Starting A Recycling Program to find out more detailed information on establishing an office or other type of recycling program. Contact our program for assistance in developing a recycling and solid waste reduction program.

Whom do I contact about getting a curbside recycling bin and find out what is being collected in our community's program?

Contact the City Hall or the Public Works Department. They can provide information on whether the community has a curbside or drop-off recycling program as well as what materials are being collected in the program. If the community has a recycling program but no information on how to prepare the recyclables, contact the Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program staff at MDEQ and we'll provide this information.

Is there a glossary of recycling and solid waste reduction terms and phrases?

A glossary is available for various terms and phrases used in recycling, solid waste reduction and general solid waste management. Click on Glossary to see these terms and phrases.