While recycling will continue to play an important "materials-conservation" role into the future, other options such as dematerialisation and demanufacturing will grow in importance for a variety of reasons.
Many companies have embarked on "industrial ecology" strategies -- the deliberate incorporation of environmental values into product design and manufacturing process decisions. The drivers behind this trend are many: they include regulatory pressures and market forces and the constant search for how to reduce costs or add customer value.
A key tool in the industrial ecology toolbox is demanufacturing -- re-examining one's core products for oppurtunities to create, for example, modular, upgradeable units; easy-to-disassemble products; highly 'lightweighted' products that use less and less material to accomplish a given function.
As well as being taught the 3 R's of reading, writing and arithmetic, schoolchildren nowadays learn new 3 R's: reduce, reuse and recycle.
There is now a 4th 'R' that manufacturers will learn: re-design.
Companies that produce cars, fridges, PC's and a whole range of other goods must improve their designs to accommodate environmentally friendly disposal at the end of the products lifetime.