Open-loop vs. Closed-loop Recycling

Closed-loop recycling indicates a product can be recycled back into itself, while open-loop recycling (downcycling) indicates that it can be recycled into other types of products (e.g. soda bottle into fiber). Open-loop recycling is often regarded as worse than close-loop recycling. Value judgments often have to be made as to which route is more environmentally beneficial. For example, a closed-loop recycling option for a product may require more energy than the open-loop option, but this open-loop option requires more water for reprocessing, comparatively. Depending on personal value judgments and pressing regional environmental issues, determining which of these recycling options is best may not be obvious.