Americans buy about 28 billion plastic water bottles every year, and nearly 8 out of 10 of those bottles end up in a landfill. This means only about 23% of all of the plastic bottles get recycled.
Curbside Recycling Programs
Curbside recycling programs collect plastic bottles with a "neck" to recycle including milk jugs, water, soft drink, juice bottles, shampoo, toiletries, laundry detergent, household cleaners, and salad dressings.
- Make the Effort - Recycle your empty plastic bottle. Technology used to sort plastics requires empty containers. Check with your hauler about bottle caps.
- Sorting the Matieral - The recycled bottles are taken to recycling centers where they are sorted from other materials and baled. Each bale contains from 6,500 to 9,500 food and beverage bottles.
- Using the Plastic - The plastic is shredded, washed, melted, and sent to end markets in pellet form where it is made into kayaks, park benches, school lunch trays, railroad ties, carpeting, fleece jackets, and more.
Did you know that the small number on the bottom of a container inside the "chasing arrows" is called a "resin code" and indicates the general type of plastic it's made from, NOT whether or not it can be recycled?
What plastics cannot be recycled?
The following plastic materials CANNOT be recycled at the curb:
- Polystyrene (Styrofoam) trays or restaurant containers
- Molded packing blocks
- Packing peanuts
- Water hoses
- Plastic flower pots
The following plastic materials may or may not be recycled at the curb:
Check with your garbage hauler to see if they will accept these items. Although some of them may have a #1 or #2, the chemicals, dyes and other additives used to make them might change the composition so that they are different from the plastic used for bottles. For the most part, currently these items cannot be recycled, but the markets are ever changing so some haulers may be collecting them.
- Butter, yogurt, and cottage cheese tubs
- Ice cream pails
- Plastic bags (these can also be recycled at stores - see Plastic Bags)
- Plastic toys
- Clear cake, muffin, cookie, produce, or restaurant containers
- Plastic dinnerware
- Plastic garden edging