Using recycled materials

Purchasing post-consumer goods
Buying recycled products

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends developing public education and awareness programmes to promote the use of recycled products.


The Buy Recycled Business Alliance was launched by the USA's National Recycling Coalition in 1991. Over 800 companies are now involved, pledging commitment to increasing their purchases of recycled content products. An airline company spend US$33.9 million on recycled content products in 1993, surpassing its original goal by 25%. A floor coverings company have perfected a process to recycle 100% of its reclaimed floor covering products. Worn or out of date materials are combined with plastic to form a 100% post-consumer product which can be manufactured into playground equipment, marine products and recreational furniture. The company is also developing a new floor-covering incorporating 70% recycled materials.


Recycling is not just about collecting recyclables. Unless the final products are bought by consumers – creating a recycled product market – the complete process of recycling will not work. Buying recycled lies at the core of developing markets for collected recyclables. Creating strong markets for the end product is vital.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production