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1924, verbal noun from recycle (v.). Originally a technical term in oil-refining and similar industries; its broader consumer sense dates from 1960.
The collection and often reprocessing of discarded materials for reuse. Recycled materials include those used in manufacturing processes and those used in consumer products. The recycled material is often degraded somewhat by use or processing and therefore must be converted to another purpose. For example, the processing of recycled newspaper and other paper wastes usually shortens their fibers, and the material cannot be used to make high-grade paper. Instead, it can be reprocessed to make cardboard or insulation. Recycling helps reduce pollution, prolong the usefulness of landfills, and conserve natural resources.