According to HabitsofWaste.org, over 400 billion plastic bottles are used worldwide in a year. However, only a small fraction of those bottles are recycled properly. Recycling plastic bottles not only helps eliminate waste in our landfills, but it also saves energy and reduces the pollution that can come from the chemicals used to make these bottles.
To assure you are properly recycling your plastic bottles follow these tips:
1. Check the bottom of the bottle
First and foremost, check the bottom of your plastic bottle for a number between 1 and 7. This is the resin number and it tells you what kind of plastic the bottle is made out of. It may also determine whether or not it can be recycled by your local recycling center. For example, #1 and #2 plastics are almost always recyclable, while #6 plastics aren't always accepted -- so be sure to check first!
2. Rinse the bottle
You will need to rinse out any food and liquids (other than water) from plastic bottles before you can put them in the recycling pile. Unfortunately, if the plastic is not clean, it could contaminate the entire load of plastics. This causes the recycling center to send the entire batch to a landfill. Just a quick rinse to ensure no residue is left inside is a good practice when recycling plastic bottles.
3. If required by your local recycling services, take the bottle cap off
Most recycling centers do not accept bottle caps because they are made out of a different kind of plastic that the bottle itself is made out of. This may result in contamination during the recycling process. The best practice is to research whether your local recycling center accepts bottle caps. If they do not, re-use your leftover bottle caps for a fun craft project!
4. Consider crushing the bottles if you have a lot of them
Crushing your plastic bottles will help save space in the recycling container or in the bag, if you are taking them to a recycling center. If your bottle has a cap on it, be sure to take the cap off first before crushing the bottles.
5. Find out what kind of program your community has for recycling plastics
Some areas require you to take the bottles to a recycling center while others will ask you to leave the bottles in a blue bin at the curbside. Additionally, some areas will even give you money back for your plastic bottles! Look up the recycling program in your community to ensure you are recycling your plastic bottles correctly and efficiently.