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Pre-consumer Waste Vs. Post-consumer Waste - What's the Difference?

by Yahoo! Contributor Network

With all this talk of global warming/Climate change, environmentally friendly and recycling your head is probably spinning. You think you are doing the right thing buying anything you can stating it is recycled. Then one day you read the label and see 80% post consumer waste 20% pre-consumer waste. What does that mean? What is Pre-consumer waste and what is Post-consumer waste? Should you care?

Pre-consumer waste is waste that comes about before it ever makes it to the consumers. Pre-consumer waste is waste that comes directly from the manufacture. Lets say there is a car manufacture making cars using metals and plastic to create a fun family car. The day is done. The cars are made and what is left is all the excess of material that was left over from making those cars. All the left over metal and plastic pieces are what is known as pre-consumer waste. Instead of throwing the excess in the trash it is gathered up and recycled.

While both pre and post-consumer waste are technically recycled, post consumer waste would be more truly recycled. Post-consumer waste is waste that came about from you, the consumer. You know all those aluminum cans, plastic bottles and newspapers you nicely took your time to set aside and recycle? All of that is what is known as post-consumer waste. You, the consumer, used them as needed and then recycled them. All of those items that people take the time to recycle do actually get a new life and turn into something else. They are also the most important of all types of waste.

While the use of pre-consumer waste is important, post-consumer waste is even more important, because the waste comes from you, your friends, family and your neighbors. If you make the decision to complete the loop and recycle.

If you are looking for recycled products, try and choose the product with the highest post-consumer waste percentage you can find. When you do, if you recycle too, know that your last can of soda, your old Sunday paper, or maybe the carton from your past morning glass of orange juice might just be part of the brand new product you are holding.