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Overview Recycling Information for Citizens

picture of multi-colored recycling sign

Environmentally Preferable Product
Buying Recycled Products
Related Topics


Recycling is a worthwhile activity with many benefits to you, your family and the environment. It reduces the amount of solid waste going into landfills and incinerators, saves energy, creates valuable jobs and helps preserve natural resources for future generations. In 1999, 27.8% of the waste generated was recycled or composted. EPA's national solid waste goal is to recycle 35% of the waste stream by the year 2005.

Separating materials from your garbage into the recycling bin, or taking recyclables to the drop-off center is only one step in the process of recycling. There are three steps:
Buying Recycled Products
Collection & Processing

Each step represents a unique and important activity in the recycling loop.

Buying Recycled Products

In order to fully participate in recycling, consumers must buy recycled products. There are many items that can be purchased, from notebook paper to clothes. Look for labels that indicate an item is made from recyclable materials (especially, and beneficial is a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content). Also, look for items that can be recycled again, in particular if it is a disposable item like a milk jug. Proper waste management is everyone's responsibility. The federal government is the single largest consumer of goods and services in the United States. Due to the government's large purchasing power, procurement of recycled-content products can significantly affect the market demand. The EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG), designate products that are or can be made with recovered materials, and recommend practices for buying these products.

State Buy Recycled Links


Information from the Department of Natural Resources Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
Information from the Iowa Department of Economic Development Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer


Market Development Program: Recycled Products Directory Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer


State of Nebraska, Department of Administrative Services The state recycling office has an official (rpg) recycled products guide which provides the most current and comprehensive information on recycled products.

Collection & Processing

Most of us only participate in the collection step of recycling. Many communities have active programs which encourage separating recyclable items from the garbage. There are also drop off centers and companies which take in recyclables. Once recyclable items have been collected, they are crushed, bailed or shredded (processed) and sold to companies that manufacture new products.


Literally thousands of businesses process collected recyclables in the manufacture of new products. Many recycle the product back into the same product again, such as aluminum cans, glass bottles, or paper. Others use recyclables as feedstock for a different product, such as plastic lumber park benches or decks made from plastic milk jugs or soda bottles. Regardless of where these items end up, recycling helps save our natural resources by reusing existing materials rather than depleting new ones. Recycling reduces the amount of raw materials mined, processed and consumed, and reduces energy consumption.

Environmentally Preferable Products

The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing(EPP), website provides guides to green purchasing for products that incorporate key environmental factors with traditional price and performance considerations.

Did you know that the United States consumes approximately 25% of the world's resources with only 5% of the world's population?

EPA recognizes the influence of the United States, and in particular, the U.S. government, has on what products and services are produced due to its tremendous purchasing power. EPP works to leverage that influence to minimize environmental burdens.

Each Year, the United States General Services Administration publishes GSA's Environmental Products and Services Guide. The GSA National Furniture Center (NFC) invites environmentally conscientious business partners to participate in its Evergreen Award program. This program was developed to recognize efforts in recycling, affirmative procurement and waste reduction that can set an example for other NFC business partners to follow. The NFC will present awards in three commodity areas: 1) Furniture, 2) Furnishings and 3) Technologies and Electronics. GSA's 2003 Evergreen Award was presented to HON INDUSTRIES, an Iowa office furniture manufacturer.

For the latest information on furniture and furnishing products and services that didn't make it into the Guide, check the Evergreen Furniture and Furnishings Program Partners Program

State Links

Missouri Office of Administration Environmentally Preferable Products and Services

Recycling Information for Citizens

How Can I Recycle?
Choose a product from the list below to find out how you can reuse, recycle and properly dispose of these items. Your county or state waste programs also offer specific information on where to recycle common recyclables.

Aluminum & Steel Cans Computers & Electronics
Glass Plastic
Automotive Materials Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris
Junk Mail Yard & Food Waste
Batteries Textiles
Mercury & Mercury-containing Products

Where Can I Recycle?

Earth 911, Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer Maintains a database on Recycling, pollution prevention and environmental information in the United States and Canada, that is searchable by zip code.

The Kansas Business and Recycling Program, Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer maintains a database that can be searched by location and material.

In Missouri, contact your local Solid Waste Management District , Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer for information on recycling programs in your area.

Nebraska Recycling Resource Directory Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

How Can I Do More To Support Recycling?

If you would like more information on how to step-up your recycling efforts, look to The Consumer's Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste for great ideas on how you can close the loop in recycling.

State and National organizations play a significant role in supporting and promoting recycling. Check with these organizations to learn how you can help.

Earth Day

Iowa Recycling Association Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

Kansas Business and Industry Recycling Program Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
Kansas Organization of Recyclers Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

Missouri Recycling Association Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

Nebraska State Recycling Association Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

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