What is recycling, anyway?

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What is recycling, exactly?

It’s a simple-sounding question with multifaceted answers that have evolved in recent years. The rise of technology like artificial intelligence, robotics and chemical recycling methods could change what types of materials are accepted in curbside bins and how facilities process and sell those materials, industry leaders say.

Policy changes may also come into play. States are deciding what materials will be covered under new extended producer responsibility systems and how producers will need to make those products more recyclable or manufactured with more recycled content.

Meanwhile, municipalities and recycling organizations say recycling systems must be more accessible and equitable, as well as less confusing for people.

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