Recycling of plastic containers, such as bottles and jugs, form one of the most significant fractions of recyclable plastic. Below are provided the most common questions about plastic container recycling, aiming to dispel common doubts and assist recycling efforts.
#1 Are plastic containers recyclable?
The answer is yes. Plastic containers are almost 100% recyclables. A number provided on the containers determines the type of plastic used to manufacture them. It is usually written in the bottom or the side of the plastic containers.
The number is not provided to ensure the recyclability of the product but to determine the properties of the type of plastic used. Plastic containers are usually manufactured with plastic #1 and #2. Such type of plastic ensures durability and flexibility as well as very light weight. See how to identify types of plastic to recycle.
#2 How does the shape of a plastic container affect its recyclability?
As stated above, it is the type of plastic and not its shape that affects a container’s recyclability. This happens because each type of plastic has a different melting point. For that reason materials of same type are categorized before melted down.
However, by identifying the shape of a plastic container, most recyclers can tell the molding process used to manufacture it and consequently the type of plastic used.
In that way local recycling programs may inform you apart from what types of plastic they recycle what shape of plastic they accept. Wide-mouth, clamshell and ridged are some of the most commonly descriptions used to describe the plastics accepted in local recycling programs.
#3 How do I prepare plastic containers for recycling?
Preparing plastic containers before recycling is recommended, without however being mandatory. The reason is more than obvious. Clean plastics make easier the recycling process.
Preparation may include rinsing, removal of labels and removal of caps. However, most programs nowadays have evolved their systems and none of the above actions may be needed.
The greatest progress has been recorded with the caps of bottles. Many systems actually prefer to receive them together with the bottles, in an effort to avoid generation of littering during the transport of recyclables.
In addition to containers, more and more recycling programs include in the acceptable materials plastic lids, trays and tubs. Despite being a step forward, mixing wrong types of plastics may lower the quality of the recyclable stream. Therefore, make sure what types of plastic containers your local recycling program accepts.
#4 Where can I recycle my plastic containers?
Use our recycling locator to spot your nearest recycling center. Find out the materials it accepts and all the necessary information.