We all want to live as sustainably as possible, and that means recycling wherever we can. A report produced by Euromonitor International showed an increase in bottled water sales in the Philippines of 4% in 2015, and that’s before you factor in the plastic bottles we buy our fizzy drinks, cleaning liquids, and even cooking oil in.
It’s clear that plastic recycling is something we should all be doing – but what’s the best way to go about recycling plastic bottles? Can you reuse them around the house? Read on to find out.
How To Recycle Plastic Bottles
When it comes to plastic recycling, the most important question you need to ask is whether your bottle can be recycled on mass, or whether you need to think of creative ways to reuse them in your own home. Plastic is a notably resilient material, and that means that if it is not recyclable then it could hang around in waste for a very long time.
The Basics of Plastic Recycling
Plastic recycling can seem a bit tricky at first – there are lots of different kinds of plastics, not all of them are recyclable, and not all the recyclable ones are labelled in the same way. You can find detailed guides to the labels on packaging, but if the labelling isn’t clear for whatever reasons, here are a couple of basic rules it might help to remember:
- Plastic bottles are usually recyclable. Most drink, cooking oil and detergent bottles are made of PET plastic. PET stands for “polyethylene terephthalate” (sometimes just called “plastic type 1”), a kind of plastic that’s recycled pretty much everywhere.
- Cellophane and plastic films are not usually recyclable. This varies from place to place, though, so check with your city waste disposal department.
- Some recycling plants won’t take dirty packaging. This is especially true with food and drink packaging. If you’re recycling plastic bottles that used to contain something like milk or juice, it’s worth rinsing them before you put them out for collection. You don’t need to get them squeaky clean – a simple rinse with a little water will be just fine for a used milk jug. If you’re dealing with something more substantial, like an empty ketchup bottle, just unscrew the cap and fill the container with warm water and a drop of Sunlight. Let it sit for a few hours to loosen any residue, and then rinse. It’ll make the process of creating recycled plastic much easier.
So far, so good. But what about things that aren’t widely recycled: plastic water jugs, empty pill bottles, and so forth? Is there any way these can be disposed of sustainably? More often than not, there is! Read on for some advanced plastic recycling tips:
- If in doubt, ask! Your city’s waste management department should be able to answer any questions you have about what can and can’t be collected with your recycling – and they might surprise you. It’s worth giving them a call and writing down what they say for future reference.
- If the city won’t take it, somewhere else might. Some things that aren’t usually collected for recycling, like plastic bags, might be recyclable somewhere else. Supermarkets, specialised waste collection plants and locally run initiatives often take plastics that can’t easily be recycled elsewhere, so have a look around your area.
- Upcycle what you can’t recycle. If you have the time and inclination, non-recyclable plastic bottles can find a second life in your home. There’s no shortage of things you can do with a recycled plastic bottle, from making bird feeders and hanging planters to more ambitious projects – piggy banks, umbrella holders and even greenhouses! If you’re really serious about plastic recycling, get crafty – you’ll be surprised at what you can come up with.
There you have it – a quick primer on how to recycle plastic bottles the right way. Remember, a few small changes can make a big difference to our environment, so it’s worth paying some attention to your recycling habits – it’s for our planet, after all.