Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into reusable objects to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, energy usage, air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by decreasing the need for "conventional" waste disposal and lowering greenhouse gas emissions compared to plastic production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" waste hierarchy.
There are some ISO standards related 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, paper, metal, plastic, tires, textiles and electronics. The composting or other reuse of biodegradable waste—such as food or garden waste—is also considered recycling. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection centre or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned and reprocessed into new materials destined for manufacturing.
A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic and inorganic matter back into the production of living matter. The process is regulated by food web pathways that decompose matter into mineral nutrients. Nutrient cycles occur within ecosystems. Ecosystems are interconnected systems where matter and energy flows and is exchanged as organisms feed, digest, and migrate about. Minerals and nutrients accumulate in varied densities and uneven configurations across the planet. Ecosystems recycle locally, converting mineral nutrients into the production of biomass, and on a larger scale they participate in a global system of inputs and outputs where matter is exchanged and transported through a larger system of biogeochemical cycles.
Recycling (technological) A human industrial process of shunting discarded technological artifacts into an industrial repository system that dissipates energy and employs people to manufacture and redistribute new artifacts using the old materials.