Why is reducing the consumption of recyclables is better than recycling recyclables? Some recyclables can be recycled only a limited number of times (plastics) so I partially understand it. But other recyclables (glass, metal) can be recycled infinitely. Do I need to reduce the consumption of "infinite" recyclables?

  • "Reduce - reuse - recycle" is the "saying". First reduce your needs, then try to meet your needs with existing goods/packaging, and then try to create the goods you lack by recycling old stuff.
    – Erik
    May 4, 2021 at 7:52

1 Answer 1


Sometimes recyclables are not recycled or reused, they are dumped into waste disposal and thus need to be replaced. This requires more resources to be used to manufacture replacements. By reducing consumption we reduce the resources needed to manufacture items.

Also, if possible it would be better to reused items than to recycle them, even infinitely recyclable materials such as metal and glass, because remelting and remolding such items uses energy.

Recycling some metals can be problematic if they are alloys such as different types of steel. Bismuth steel has different properties to vanadium or chromium steel which again is different to ordinary carbon steel. Removing the alloying elements: bismuth, vanadium, chromium etc. can require grinding the use of chemicals or different energy intensive processes.

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