Definition of the term "Recycling"

The term "recycling” denotes:

any recovery operation by which waste is converted back into products, materials, substances, which are either still serve their original purpose, or other purposes. It includes the reprocessing of organic materials but not the energy recovery and reprocessing of materials to destined to be burnt as fuel or directed to backfilling needs.

This definition of recycling is included in the Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) on waste management in the European Union, which specifies that the processing hierarchy should be designed to follow the stages presented in the diagram below:


Thus, recycling – contrary to the widespread perception – does not constitute the optimal solution for waste management and should primarily seek to prevent their creation in the first place, or their reuse as the next choice (e.g. spare parts).

In addition, according to this definition, recycling actually takes place in production facilities (steel mills, or factories producing metal products), receiving materials (scrap metal), which are either separated at the source (metal packaging collected from the consumer), or have been recovered at waste treatment facilities (e.g. BIANATT for WEEE); and use them as secondary raw materials, thus avoiding the use of primary materials (metal minerals) and further depletion of natural resources. There can be no recycling without the existence of heavy industry.