Recycling 101: Become a Recycling Expert

Understanding what can be recycled, where, and how can get confusing. This confusion often leads to placing recyclables in the trash or throwing trash into the recycling bin.

To help, here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about household waste management.

(1) What is recycling?

Recycling is collecting items that otherwise would be thrown away and turning them into new products.

(2) Why recycle?

Recycling conserves natural resources, saves energy, provides raw material to manufacturers to make new products, creates jobs, and much more. Learn more about why to do it here.

(3) Where can I recycle?

Each of South Carolina’s 46 counties have recycling programs, as do many cities and towns. To learn where you can recycle, visit RecycleHereSC.

(4) What can I recycle?

It depends on the program – so always check. Items that are usually okay include aluminum cans, steel (soup, fruit, and vegetable) cans, cardboard, and plastic (water, soda, and milk) bottles. To find out what you can recycle at home, visit RecycleHereSC.

(5) What does "Recycle Right" mean?

"Recycle Right" means only placing items in the bin or cart that are accepted in your program and properly prepared. Learn more here.

(6) Where do my recyclables go?

Items are taken from your cart, bin, or drop-off site to a facility that sorts, bales, and prepares them to become new raw material for manufacturers. For more information, check out The 3-Step Recycling Loop (PDF).

(7) What are recycled-content products?

Recycled-content products are items made with recycled material.

(8) What is buying recycled?

It means buying products made from recycled material. Recycling will not work if recycled-content products are not purchased. Today, almost anything you buy can be made from recycled material –  auto parts, backpacks, clothing, decking, furniture, and school supplies as well as new aluminum cans, glass jars, and plastic bottles. 

(9) What do those three arrows mean on products?

The arrows are the universal symbol for recycling and indicate that the product has the potential to be recycled. They do NOT necessarily mean that you should place an item in your recycling bin. Check here to see if your program accepts a specific item.

(10) What is the best waste management option?

It’s not recycling. The best option is to prevent waste. Refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, and donate before recycling.