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Educational Videos

Ever wonder what happens to your recyclables after they are collected?
Click the video below to see how recyclables go from the curb to your shopping cart.

Infographic Posters

Knowledge is the most world′s most powerful tool for recycling.
Click the thumbnails below for printable posters about the recycling process.


Educational Links

Recycling Terms

Italicized words are also vocabulary words on this list.

Ash - The solid residue that remains after a fuel or solid waste has been burned.

Biodegradable - Waste material, which is capable of being broken down, usually
by bacteria, into basic elements. Most organic wastes, such as food and paper,
are biodegradable.

Cell - A volume of solid waste, compacted and covered at a landfill.

Composting - A waste management strategy whereby wastes are decomposed
by microorganisms in the presence of oxygen. Waste materials are transformed
into soil amendments such as humus or mulch. Compostable materials include
garbage and yard waste.

Conservation - The planned management of natural resource to prevent
exploitation or destruction.

Containers - Cans, glass and plastic including, but not limited to, aluminum
beverage cans, steel, tin and bimetal food cans, foil wrap andtrays, glass bottles
and jars, plastic bottles for liquids such as milk, soda, detergent and water.

Contaminant - A material that is harmful to, or creates inefficiencies in, the
recycling process when included with a recyclable material.

Decompose - To decay or rot as a result of microbial and fungal action.

Energy - Ability to do work by moving matter or by causing a transfer of heat
between two objects at different temperatures.

Environment - The sum total of conditions, physical and biological, in which
organisms live.

Fiber - Paper type material including, but not limited to cardboard, newspaper,
junk mail, office paper, magazines, catalogs, corrugated boxes,
cereal/paperboard boxes, etc.

Fly Ash - Small, solid particles of ash and soot generated when coal, oil, or
waste materials are burned.

Garbage - Refuse or solid waste consisting of food wastes; animal and vegetable
waste resulting from the handling, storage, sale, preparation, cooking and
serving of foods.

Generation Rate - Total tons of solid waste collected, prior to recovery or
disposal, within a specific time period, divided by the total population.

Hazardous - Materials that pose a significant threat to human health
and/or the environment.

Humus - A dark substance resulting from the partial decomposition of plant
and/or animal matter.

Illegal Dumping - Disposing of waste in an improper manner and/or location; in
violation of waste disposal laws.

Leachate - Liquid that has percolated through solid waste. At a landfill, it
includes decomposed waste, bacteria, and potentially harmful materials.

Litter - Highly visible solid waste generated by consumers and businesses that
is carelessly and improperly discarded.

LULU - Acronym for "Locally unwanted land use". For example, jails, airports,
and landfills.

Material Recovery Facility (MRF) - Facility for separating and compacting solid
waste materials for recycling and other uses.

Methane - An odorless, colorless, flammable, and explosive gas emitted from
sanitary landfills that can be captured for use as a fuel.

MSW - The acronym for "Municipal Solid Waste". Includes nonhazardous waste
generated in households, commercial establishments, institutions, and light
industrial wastes. Excludes hazardous wastes, industrial process wastes,
agricultural wastes, mining wastes, and sewage sludge.

NIMBY - An acronym for "Not In My Back Yard". An expression of residential
opposition to the siting of a solid waste facility near them.

Photodegradable - The process whereby the sun's ultraviolet radiation attacks
the link in the polymer chain of plastic. The material is flexed, stretched, and
disintegrated into dust.

Recovery Rate - All discarded materials that have been recovered through
recycling, composting, or waste-to-energy plants, divided by the total tonnage
of MSW generated.

Recycling - A resource recovery method involving the collection and treatment
of a waste product for use as a raw material in the manufacture of the same or
another product. An example would be manufacturing new glass from recovered glass.

  • Curbside Recycling:  A service provided to households, typically in urban and
    suburban areas, of removing household waste. It is usually accomplished by
    personnel using purpose built vehicles to pick up household waste in containers
    acceptable to or prescribed by the municipality.

  • Drop-off Recycling:  A service provided to residents within a given
    community whereby the individual from a household physically transports
    recyclable material to a location provided. Types of material accepted vary,
    however the household is ultimately responsible for getting materials to the
    location after which a service provider is then responsible for processing the
    collected material.

  • Dual Stream Recycling:  A system in which paper fibers and containers are
    collected separately in a collection truck. Recyclables are sorted by the resident
    and handled separately throughout the collection process. In a dual stream
    system, both the collection and processing systems must be designed to handle
    this fully commingled mixture of recyclables.

  • Single Stream Recycling:  A system in which all paper fibers and containers
    are mixed together in a collection truck, instead of being sorted into separate
    commodities (newspaper, cardboard, plastic, glass, etc.) by the resident and
    handled separately throughout the collection process. In single stream, both the
    collection and processing systems must be designed to handle this fully mixture
    of recyclables.

  • Municipal vs. Private Collection:  A governmental entity may provide service
    to residents by using municipal employees and equipment or the governmental
    entity may contract for services with a private company to collect materials
    from residents using employees and equipment from the selected vendor. If a
    resident is responsible for handling the waste from their own household they
    may subscribe to a private hauler for services. This method is commonly called
    Subscription Service.

Reduce - To decrease the amount of waste generated at each step of product
development or use.

Resource - A material that can be used to make something. For example, wood
resources are made into paper products.

Reuse - Using a product more than once in its same form.

Sanitary Landfill - A method of disposing of refuse on land without creating
nuisances or hazards to public health or safety. Waste is spread in layers,
compacted and covered with a layer of soil daily.

Scrap - Waste material, which is usually segregated and suitable for recovery
or reclamation.

Sludge - A semi-liquid residue remaining from the treatment of municipal and industrial
water and wastewater.

Soil - The top layer of the earth's surface, suitable for the growth of plant life.

Solid Waste - Garbage, refuse, sludge, and other discarded solid materials and
residues, including those from residential, industrial, commercial,
and agricultural operations.

Solid Waste Management - The administration of activities, which provide for the collection, source separation, storage, transportation, processing, treatment, and disposal of solid waste.

Trash - Waste material considered worthless, unnecessary, or offensive that
does not include food waste and ashes, but may include other organic materials
such as yard waste.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) - The federal
agency, created in 1970, charged with the enforcement of all federal regulations
having to do with air and water pollution, radiation and pesticide hazards,
ecological research, and solid waste disposal. There are also state and regional
offices located across the country.

Waste - Anything that is discarded, useless, or unwanted.

Waste Stream - The total waste produced by a community or society, as it
moves from origin to disposal. Includes MSW and industrial wastes.

Waste-to-Energy (WTE) - Disposal method where MSW is burned to generate
steam or electricity and reduce the volume of waste to be discarded.

Yard Waste - Leaves, grass clippings, pruning, and other natural organic
matter discarded from yards and gardens. This material can be composted into
humus or mulch.

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