The arrows in the recycling symbol represent the three steps of the recycling process:
- The first step is the collection and sorting. Recyclable materials are collected at the curb, drop-off facilities, and from businesses and then brought to facilities that separate the material. Plastic bottles are separated by types of plastic, aluminum is separated from steel, cardboard is separated from other paper and glass is separated by color (green, brown, blue and clear). Most materials (not glass) are baled and transported to the processing facility.
- The second step is manufacturing. The collected recyclable materials are transformed into new products. The materials may be used to create the same product, such as a new aluminum can from an old aluminum can; or a completely different product, like a park bench from plastic milk jugs.
- The third step is purchasing and use. These recycled products, aluminum cans or park benches, need to be purchased. This last part of the symbol; the third arrow, is closing the loop. Without this step, the recycling process is not finished.
We need to participate fully in the recycling process! In addition to putting our recyclables on the curb or bringing them to the recycling center, we need to buy products with recycled content too!