The verb "reclaim" means:
Recover (material) for reuse; recycle: 'a sufficient weight of plastic could easily be reclaimed'
The verb "recycle" means:
Convert (waste) into reusable material: 'car hulks were recycled into new steel' (as noun recycling) 'a call for the recycling of all paper'
[Oxford Online Dictionary]
They look like synonyms, but the actual usages seem very different.
For example, when you google "reclaimed wood furniture", you get 425,000 hits but only 263,000 hits for "recycled wood furniture".
The striking difference is when you google "recycled paper", you get around 7 million hits, but only 29,000 hits for "reclaimed paper". And I think the difference comes from the definitions of the two verbs. Recycled paper comes from mostly "waste".
The 2 verbs seem to be interchangeable for furniture. But not for paper. Is there any reason why other than "that's the way it is"?
I always used "reclaimed wood desk/furniture/table" for relatively cheap furniture. Does "recycled wood furniture" have a different connotation, probably related with "waste" in the definition?
In terms of etymology, recycle was used to mean "specifically of waste material from 1960". But there is no explanation about "when it started to mean to recycle in the [Etymology Online Dictionary] about "reclaim" except:
Meaning "bring waste land into useful condition fit for cultivation" first attested 1764,
- When did "reclaim" start to mean (sort of) "to recycle"? Are there any specific nouns that allow only "reclaim"?