You are here: Home > Education > The Recycling Process: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Have a Question or Comment? Let us know!

The Recycling Process: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

What Do I Do With...? Your biggest recycling questions answered.
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal. Learn about getting rid of paints and pesticides.
What can I recycle curbside? Find details for your community.

1. Reduce

Reduce really means not to make trash in the first place. Ultimately, garbage is buried in a landfill and never used again. Reducing waste requires people to think about how to prevent trash and household hazardous waste from ending up in the garbage can. 

Reduce Tips

  • Do not purchase or use disposable items such as paper products, straws and single serving containers. 
  • Pack lunch or a snack that does not involve throwing anything away when you are done. Make sure to include a cloth napkin.
  • On average, a household contains about 100 pounds of toxic and/or hazardous materials. Avoid buying cleaning and other products that contain hazardous substances. Get rid of household hazardous waste properly.
  • Compost yard and food waste to decrease your trash and prevent the lost of nutrients.

2. Reuse

Common materials are reused (used again) for the same purpose, or for something different. Clothing is reused because it is expensive and unpractical to buy new clothing everyday. By taking care of the items and/or doing routine maintenance on goods, they can be used longer. Reuse activities can take skills such as fixing a broken game or sewing a torn shirt. Or you can turn that old pair of jeans into a new purse.

The two main benefits of repairing broken items are saving money by making the purchase last longer and creating less trash. Also, reuse can require a touch of creativity to craft a treasure box from a carton, a bracelet from a toothbrush, a greeting card from an old CD case or a new piece of furniture out of salvaged wood.

Reuse Tips

  • Help others by reusing unwanted items through donations to churches or non profit organizations or freecycle them. 
  • Use the District's Pass It On book to find local organizations that accept unwanted items.

3. Recycle

Recycling involves collecting, processing and selling products made from old materials. A recycled plastic soda bottle is chipped, melted, and made into fiber, which becomes a jacket or sleeping bag stuffing. The old material in a new product is called recycled content. Some products are made with 100% recycled content such as a cereal box made only from recycled paper. An aluminum can might only be made from 40% recycled content because the can must be made from some bauxite (its natural resource) to keep it strong.

Most communities in Cuyahoga County will pick up mixed recycling at the curb. Find details about your city’s recycling program here.

If a community does not have a curbside program, there may be city drop-off bins available for residents. Some local businesses, schools, and non-profits host drop-off recycling containers for paper or other items. To find options, see a list of retail locations, paper drop-off bins, or refer to the District's Recycling Directory for Business and Industry.


Recycling Processes

Want to know more about the recycling process? Check out these steps for recycled paper manufacturing. Scroll down for other recycling manufacturing processes.


  Paper is collected from residents through curbside and drop-off programs.
  Paper is sorted by type and contaminates are removed.
  Paper is baled.
  Paper is mixed with water in a hydropulper.
  Several hours later the pulp is done.
  The pulp is poured onto a screen and then dried and rolled. 
  The rolled paper is then made into new paper products.

About Plastic Bottles and Plastic Recycling

Glass Recycling Facts 

Steel Recycling Information 

Aluminum Recycling 

Can Manufacturing