NaturalResources + Energy = FinishedProduct
Since all products are combinations of natural resources that are transformed by energy consuming processes this simple formula can be used to represent the manufacture of any product. It is the same if we are talking about paper, cell phones, bulldozers or cupcakes.
Recycling preserves the natural resources and some of the energy that was used to produce the product.

Formulas are abstract rather than literal. So N does not just represent a tree. It represents any natural resource, and e represents all kinds of energy including mechanical energy, heat energy, or electrical energy. P does not only represent paper, it can represent any finished product. This can be used to represent any manufacturing process. Every thing you make is a combination of natural resources and energy. Whether it is a piece of paper, or a cake, or a cell phone, or a car, the basic recipe is N+e=P When we start talking about things like cell phones and electronic devices that are made of lots of different kinds of N, the formulas get very complicated. But the point is that every thing we make contains an investment of natural resources and energy.

When things are thrown into the trash the natural resources and energy are lost. When things are recycled, the natural resources and part of the energy are saved. When things are reused, both the energy and natural resources are conserved. That is why reuse is better than recycling. But recycling is better than disposal.

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