Resource recovery is the reclaiming of "garbage" materials for a new use. It includes collecting, sorting, and processing materials that are traditionally viewed as waste and transforming them into the raw inputs used to create new products. Recycling and composting are among the best known resource recovery practices.
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Resource recovery is the practice of reclaiming materials that were previously thought of as unusable. It is not managing waste, which is the standard for most garbage companies.
Traditional waste companies collect and move materials to large-scale, single-use sites such as landfills or incinerators. Resource recovery companies know that there is still value in those materials. Recology facilitates extracting the remaining value of these materials through our progressive programs, facilities and technologies.
The intention of resource recovery is always to make the highest and best use of all materials, and landfilling only those materials for which there is currently no use. Over time, we expect the volume of landfill-bound material to shrink to a negligible amount. Recology is actively pursing that goal.
Resource recovery is an important aspect of environmental and social sustainability. Resources such as food scraps, yard trimmings, discarded paper, plastic, and fabrics are removed from the category of unusable materials, and recovered to preserve our natural environment. These are just a few examples of reusable materials that benefit the agricultural and manufacturing industries throughout the world.
Composting is the process of managing the natural decomposition of organic material. It involves organic matter (such as food scraps and yard trimmings), moisture, oxygen, and bacteria.
Material decomposes because it is continuously eaten and recycled by millions of organisms, like earthworms, insects, and micro-organisms that turn the material into a valuable soil amendment. On a small scale, composting involves mixing food scraps and yard trimmings in a small kitchen or backyard container. On a large scale, it involves environmentally friendly processes at our composting facilities that accelerate decomposition of organic materials and help nature to create compost that supports healthy root systems and improves soil structure.
There are many benefits to composting. Over time, soil can lose its nutrients due to continuous harvesting. Nutrient-rich compost serves as a soil amendment that returns valuable minerals to depleted soil and restores its natural health. The nutrients available in compost are a direct function of the raw materials that were used to create it.
Composting organic material reduces our communities' carbon footprints by avoiding the creation of methane gas when this material is buried in landfills. It also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and conserves water and energy for the farmers and landscapers who use it.
Visit the Recology Compost Store online.
Our Top 10 Reasons to Compost
- Compost is a good alternative to chemical fertilizers because compost doesn’t pollute groundwater, wells, or waterways.
- Compost keeps organic materials out of landfills, which reduces methane gas emissions.
- Compost sequesters carbon deep in the soil, especially when used to grow cover crops like mustard or beans.
- Compost promotes healthy microbial activity in the soil, providing micronutrients to plant roots and discouraging soil diseases.
- Compost improves soil structure, thereby protecting topsoil from erosion.
- Soils fed with compost retain more rainwater, conserving this precious resource.
- Compost helps grow plants rich with nutrients that sustain your good health.
- Compost manufacturing support green jobs.
- It’s easy and it’s satisfying.
- Composting turns food scraps into fruits, vegetables, and fine wines. Bon appetite!
Image: San Francisco Magazine, April 2013
- To repeat a cycle
- To use again after processing
Recycling is the process of collecting, sorting, and converting discarded materials into raw inputs used to produce new products.
All of the materials recycled as part of the programs provided by Recology reduce the consumption of virgin materials.
Our recycling programs include collecting food scraps, yard trimmings, paper, plastics, glass, metal, and construction and demolition material, bulky items, clothing, carpets and much more.
There are many benefits to recycling. Between 17 and 31 trees are saved for every ton of 100% recycled paper purchased, says Recycled Papers, The Essential Guide by Claudia Thompson, published by the MIT Press. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists some of the positive impacts of recycling that go far beyond trees. These include:
- Protecting and expanding U.S. manufacturing jobs
- Reducing the need for landfilling and incineration
- Preventing pollution caused by the manufacturing of products from virgin materials, including keeping 60 pounds of air pollution out of the atmosphere for every ton of 100% recycled paper used
- Saving energy from natural resource extraction
- Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change
- Conserving natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals for future generations
Recycling is an important part of resource recovery but the benefits are not fully realized until consumers favor products with recycled content when shopping. Consider purchasing products made with recycled content to help sustain a viable market for recovered materials like plastic, fabric, glass and paper. Recycling is just one step in conserving resources, but it goes hand in hand with asking manufacturers to use recovered materials in their products, and to use less material in their packaging.
Art & Invention
Art & Invention
Making art of out recovered materials is essential to inspiring the public to see what they discard in a new light.
D. Cherie Johnson
reclaimed lumber, canvas board, rope, steel rod, acrylic paint, wire, paint brushes
The Artist in Residence Program in San Francisco and GLEAN in the Portland area provide local artists with access to discarded materials and a stipend. Our residence program enable artists to educate and inspire the public about recycling, reuse and resource conservation. The program also supports the local art community to creatively divert materials from landfills and promote new ways of thinking about art and the environment.
Learn about the Artist in Residence Program in San Francisco.
Books for Sale!
Understanding the lifecycle of the materials that we use and discard is at the core of resource recovery. Our educational programs are part of our service offerings, and are tailored to the needs of each community we serve. Through a variety of activities we increase public awareness about resource recovery while bringing together employees from all levels of the organization.