Recycle, then buy recycled

Aluminum cans

Hundreds of Minnesota businesses make products out of recycled materials. When you buy recycled you are helping the local economy and the environment.

You already know that recycling keeps useful materials from going to waste in landfills or incinerators. But did you know that buying recycled-content products ensures that markets for those recovered materials are strong.

Don’t throw your recyclables

Minnesotans throw away an estimated $217 million worth of recyclables. Additionally, we spend $200 million to dispose of it. Recycling supports many Minnesota manufactures who need those materials.

Not only that, recycling and buying recycled products helps keep Minnesota's lakes and rivers clean. Learn more, visit

Gerdau, located in St. Paul, Minn., used recycled steel to make rebar that was used to re-build the 35W bridge. Recycling steel saves at least 75 percent of the energy it would take to create steel from raw materials. Photo from Minnesota Public Radio.

What is a recycled product

When you recycle those materials are turned into other useful materials.

For example, plastic milk jugs, shampoo and detergent bottles are turned into lumber that can be used to make decks and outdoor furniture.

Steel from cans, cars, and appliances are turned into new steel. How can you tell a steel or tin can from aluminum one? See if a magnet attaches to it. Steel is magnetic while aluminum is not.

Products made in Minnesota

In Minnesota, there are more than 200 manufactures that make quality products from recycled materials.

  • Home and office supplies from reclaimed and recycled paper
  • Lawn, garden, and building supplies made from recycled plastic
  • Floor mats, pavers, and landscape and playground mulch made from recycled rubber
  • Ceiling tiles made from recycled paper

The Minnesota Recycled Products Directory is a searchable database of recycled products made in Minnesota and vendors that carry them.

What’s the difference between post-consumer and pre-consumer materials?

  • Post-consumer is material that’s been used by a consumer then recycled. Such as those collected by curbside recycling.
  • Pre-consumer are scraps, rejects, and trimmings from the manufacturing floor is repurposed into something new rather than thrown away.