Recycling has made huge gains in the last couple decades. The rate of municipal waste that gets recycled more than doubled in 2010 to 34 percent from 16 percent in 1990, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Still, about half of the nation’s 225 million metric tons of annual trash gets the "one and done" treatment. Even though virtually every object contains recyclable materials, much of our waste ends up being incinerated or dumped in a landfill.
Recycling is not as effective as it could be—in part because collection services vary widely from city to city, which residents can find confusing. And local waste management firms can only handle so many kinds of recyclable refuse.
Niche recycling projects, however, have sprung up to catch some of the waste that falls through the cracks, giving many everyday products and their raw materials second lives. This Earth Day, to help consumers cut into that heap, here is a slide show of 10 surprising items that can be recycled and reused through programs big and small.