It’s important to know what can be recycled so we can all do our part to reduce waste and decrease the strain on our natural resources. Have you ever wondered where the things you toss in the recycling bin end up? Knowing what those materials can turn into isn’t just about satisfying our curiosity. It lets you know what to look for when using and purchasing products. If the products you buy include recycled materials, you’re making a greener choice.

The number of companies using recycled materials and the range of products with recycled and post-consumer components is growing every year. Here are some of the products you can find made from things you recycle:

Machine parts

We all know we should recycle aluminum cans, but did you know that aluminum and other metals can be recycled infinitely? Aluminum from the cans in your recycling bin can be made into more than just another soda can. Components for dozens of other things like machinery, appliances, electrical cables, boats, and cars can all come from recycled aluminum.

Sports equipment

A number of sports items come from recycled materials. Aluminum baseball bats are yet another thing we can make from recycled cans. Some bicycles are made with recycled aluminum. Companies also make athletic shoes, surfboards, and kayaks from recycled materials, while others make soccer balls from sustainably harvested rubber.


Believe it or not, recycled plastic beverage containers turn into the polyester in your clothes and filling in your winter coat.


Metals like aluminum are so versatile and recyclable because the recycling process doesn’t harm or alter the metal itself. Different recycled metals can easily transition into jewelry components.

They aren’t the only thing that can make that switch. Glass from recycled bottles can become beautiful glass beads. There are also individual jewelry-makers who use recycled items like soda cans to make unique and funky pieces that turn recycling into a statement of its own.

Building Materials

Aluminum turns up again as siding for homes, and recycled wood is a greener choice for your building. Even recycled plastic bottles can end up on construction sites as insulation and, later, as polyester in carpeting and upholstery inside homes and buildings.

Playground Surfaces

Let’s not forget the things that can be made out of recycled tires. The rubbery stuff that puts extra spring in your kids’ step and keeps them from seriously hurting themselves in a fall is made out of your old tires that have been shredded and repurposed.

Even though the number and kinds of things recycling produces are many and growing, and even though advances in recycling technology make more and more things recyclable, not all companies choose to buy or use recycled materials.
If you want to make your recycling go further, vote with your wallet. Supporting companies that use recycled materials in their products—and that recycle their own waste—will do the world good and encourage more companies to do the same.