Recycling is simply the reprocessing of waste materials into new products. When you think of recycling, think of the steel mills using scrap steel to make new steel products.Usingscrap (waste) steel is cheaper, uses less energy, and conserves natural resources, making it ideal and economical for consumers to take steel to a licensed scrap facility for recycling.

Contrary to the name, many recycling programs, including YSU, are not actually recycling the materials that are being collected . Don't worry, that doesn't mean the materials are being land filled! Most of the programs are simply recovering the materials for the purpose of shipping to a facility (Material Recovery Facility - MRF) that sorts and bales the recyclables for further processing in which the End User/Mills, will recycle the materials into many products that we use on a daily basis.

There may be some economic incentive to recycle - either through direct payment for scrap materials or through a cost-avoidance by less trash collection or pulls- but be aware that recycling is not free.Local or regional markets dictate what can and cannot be recycled in many communities, making it difficult to universally accept all materials for recycling. If an industry can use the waste resource (recyclable material) to make newer products, then essentially there will be a demand for the waste resource through recycling collection. However, if there is no demand for, for example, waxed cardboard milk and orange juice containers, then landfill is the only option in many communities. And just because Seattle, Washington can recycle certain materials doesn't mean that Youngstown, Ohio can do the same. There may be a facility in Washington State that can recycle waxed cardboard, however, it is too expensive to ship those materials 2,000 miles across the country. The consumer would then have to incur the cost of recycling because of transportation, and some people still do not want to pay to recycle! Some may also argue that transportation over long distances has more negative environmental impacts than there are positive environmental impacts through recycling.

At Youngstown State University, we are fortunate to have an aggressive recycling program with the assistance of the Mahoning County Solid Waste District, also known as the Green Team.