Plastic Bottles and Containers

What can be recycled?

Containers for beverages, foods, and household cleaners; bottles for shampoo, body wash, and other toiletries, plus caps and lids

Why it wants to be recycled

Used plastics are versatile and adaptable, as illustrated by their wide range of uses. There is a large market for recycled plastic bottles and containers, and keeping that valuable material out of landfills also helps reduce energy use and emissions.

How to recycle it

Look for curbside, school, work, or public space recycling bins, or find local recycling drop-off centers. In some states, beverage containers have a deposit refund and can be returned to the store where they were purchased.

For lotion bottles and other toiletry items with pumps, empty the contents, discard the pump, and recycle the bottle. For no-pump containers, simply empty the contents, re-screw the cap to keep it all together, and recycle. Check your local ordinances for specific instructions — this category is easily contaminated with incorrect preparation or the wrong materials.

What do recycled plastics from bottles and containers become?

Once collected, mixed plastics are sorted, baled, and sent to a reclaiming facility. There the plastics are cleaned, washed, and ground into flakes. The flakes are dried, melted, filtered, and formed into pellets. These are sent to a manufacturer to be heated and remolded into a new product.

Depending on the kind of plastic, recycling might give a product new life as fiber for clothing, carpeting, car parts, or strapping. Or it could become a cutting board, a durable outdoor deck, a bench, plastic lumber, playground equipment, or maybe even a recycling bin.

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