The vast majority of plastic bottles used to contain everything from drinking water to cooking oils are recyclable, and many consumers have turned to recycling efforts to keep them out of landfills. These efforts have gone a long way in reducing plastic waste, and the plastic gathered from recycling bottles can be used in many other projects. Whether you’re interested in starting to recycle your bottles or you’re a recycling veteran looking to improve your efforts, here is some basic information to make sure you’re on the right track.

Plastic Resin Codes

Each bottle will be marked with a number that indicates the type of plastic used in its construction. This number is not meant to denote whether a bottle can be recycled or not, but rather to tell recycling facilities what type of plastic can be harvested from the bottle, what temperature the resin will break down at, and other info.

Preparing Your Bottles

Although it was previously recommended to remove bottle caps before storing a bottle for recycling, it’s generally better to leave it on unless otherwise noted. Facilities are generally equipped to remove these easily and it will keep them from becoming litter during transportation. Removing the labels isn’t necessary, and neither is rinsing the bottles, although this can make for a better recycling experience and prevent your recycling area from attracting the attention of bugs and pests.

Does Shape Matter?

While the shape of a bottle doesn’t inherently affect its ability to be recycled, the shape is often an indicator of the type of resin used in its production. This is typically an easier method to determine the makeup of a bottle than the resin code, so many recycling facilities will denote the shapes of bottles that they accept.

In addition to plastic bottles, there are many other types of plastic items that can be recycled, like plastic bins, trays, and lids. If you have any questions about your recycling efforts, you can always contact your local plastics recycler, recycling facility, or other specialist.

plastic water bottles

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