Closing the LoopiStock 507216912rez

What Does That Mean?

A recyclable container that is placed in a recycling bin has not completed the recycling cycle until it is used to manufacture a new product.  The consumer’s decision to buy a recycled content product, is affectionately known as “closing the loop” and is the most important part of the recycling process.  It completes the cycle in recycling,

 Recycling markets are pulled by demand rather than pushed by supply.


Why Buy Recycled?

To Encourage a Circular Economy

Purchasing materials with recycled content, and more importantly – reducing consumption where feasible, encourages a transition to a circular economy.   A circular economy is one that uses resources over and over again, and where products are designed to avoid waste.   Our current economic model is more linear, in that raw materials are made into products that are used once and thrown in landfills or incinerators where they can never be used again.  This linear system is not sustainable because the rate at which our natural resources are being depleted exceeds their ability to renew.  A transition to a circular economy is vital to our economic health and that of our natural world. 

Combining the purchasing power of average consumers, government agencies and private sector sourcing representatives will persuade more manufacturing facilities to seek recycled content for their raw materials.  It will also encourage them to design their products and packaging to ensure that they are recyclable and avoid waste.

Other Important Reasons to Buy Recycled:iStock 1178276264res

  • Adds value to the materials that we place in our business and residential recycling collection programs.
  • Elongates the life of existing landfills by diverting material out of the waste stream back into the economy.
  • Using recycled materials rather than virgin raw materials saves significant amounts of energy.
  • Pollution, habitat loss and other environmental problems associated with natural resource extraction are avoided.
  • Creates jobs in our local communities that offer opportunities for a variety of skill sets.

How to Buy Recycled? 

  • Communicate your interest in recycled content to your suppliers.
  • Read product labels and choose those that explain the product has recycled content. The fine print will be more revealing than the symbols.
  • Use this guide! Read on for more information on how to buy recycled.



Back to Recycling Means Business


This toolkit was developed with support from the EPA Sustainable Materials Management Program.

Comments and Feedback Welcome.  E-mail Jan Hardin at