Resource reuse and recycling: limitations and potential opportunities

Thomas Graedel
Professor Emeritus of Industrial Ecology at Yale University


Materials today are often discarded after their first use. This is especially true of those materials in uses that are inherently dissipative, in complex assemblages where elements in low but vital concentrations are often lost in recycling, and for useful but toxic materials.

The status of reuse and recycling is presented, and five opportunities for improvement are presented: (1) eliminate dissipative uses of materials; (2) develop advanced technologies for reuse and recycling; (3) create suitable repositories for materials unsuitable for a circular economy; (4) design new products for circularity at end of life; (5) create and support international collaborative shipping and recycling chains.