Source reduction is defined by the EPA as the practice of designing, manufacturing, purchasing or using materials that reduce the amount of toxicity of trash created.
Manufacturing industries have been making great strides in this, reducing the amount of materials used, using recyclable materials, creating products that last longer, and encouraging reuse.
There are two types of recycling - primary and secondary. Primary recycling happens when original waste material is made back into the same material.
Secondary recycling occurs when waste materials are made into different products that may or may not be recyclable. Recycling reduces pollution and saves energy and resources. One ton of recycled steel cans save 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,000 pounds of coal and more than 5,400 BTUs of energy. Making recycled paper requires 64% less energy and generates 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution.
Paper and paperboard, glass, some forms of plastic, metals, yard wastes, textiles, and old tires can all be recycled. Recycling helps keep items out of the landfill. Recycling paper reduces the number of trees being cut down.
Recycling incentives exist in some cities and towns such as payment for recycling bottles.
Curbside recycling has helped reach 71% of the U.S. population.
Many products today have recycling options on their labels. This includes office products as well as food items.
One area that remains to be directly addressed is plastic bags. Plastic bags clog sewers and cause animal deaths. Some stores have limited use. Reducing use of non-recyclable plastic bags is important. Even in China, where plastic bags abound with over 100 billion bags in use per year, ultra thin bags have been banned.