Plastic Bottles, Where Do They Go After Drinking?

August 27th, 2021 by

Plastic Bottles, Where Do They Go After Drinking?

Plastics always get a bad rap when it comes to eco-friendliness, but in reality, the way we use and dispose of plastic is what contributes to pollution and waste. Improper waste management poses a huge problem that we are facing today.

Recycling plastic bottles is always an option, but not all plastic bottles are recyclable, and not all recycling facilities accept plastic bottles for reuse. To find out how plastic bottles are recycled and disposed of, we have to see what constitutes a recyclable plastic.

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Plastic Water Bottles

Plastic bottles are used to hold a multitude of liquids – from consumable drinks, to industrial essentials like soaps and alcohol. The most widely known use for plastic bottles, however, is for holding potable drinking water. The crystal clear plastic mimics the clarity of glass, while the material is lightweight enough to be portable.

Over the years, the popularity of using plastic for water bottles has previously peaked for its convenience and inexpensiveness, but is now under fire for its negative environmental impacts. Because plastic is made from petroleum products, drilling for oil resources has created a problem in oil spills and pollution issues.

Why Do We Still Use Plastic Bottles?

There are moments when solo plastic water bottles are the most practical option. The pandemic has made the need for single-use plastic more essential than ever, as people take precautions against sharing of utensils. Plastic water bottles have replaced communal pitchers of ice water served in restaurants for sanitary purposes.

Besides being a sanitary option, plastic bottles are simply convenient to carry around and use as part of our hydration. We can’t deny that plastic water bottles bring convenience into our lives, especially during large, fast-paced events like marathons, conventions, and concerts even before the pandemic hit.

There are a ton of reasons to continue using plastic water bottles, although we have made efforts to reduce as much plastic waste as possible. The next step in optimizing out plastic usage is to dispose of them properly, and recycle whenever we can.

The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bottle

A plastic bottle doesn’t just appear out of thin air. These plastic bottles are manufactured using a polymerisation or a polycondensation process that extracts components of plastic from resources like gas, cotton plants, and oil.

These components are refined, then mixed with other ingredients to form different types of plastic. The different types of plastic determine how well they can be recycled, how many times the material can be recycled, or whether the material can be recycled at all.

Manufacturing

Plastic bottle manufacturers start off with plastic pellets, which are melted into a thick liquid and poured into moulds to cool in a bottle shape. The resulting product is what we know to be a standard plastic water bottle.

Most standard plastic water bottles are made from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), which are recyclable and widely accepted by most recycling companies. PET bottles are not single-use plastics, unlike plastics used in grocery bags and styrofoam, and can be recycled to create new bottles.

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Disposal

Unfortunately, due to improper disposal and waste management, plastic bottles often end up in the landfill rather than recycling facilities. While most people rarely think about the impacts of throwing one plastic bottle in the trash, plastic bottles account for at least 18.5% of all landfill pollutants.

Less than 9% of plastic bottles are recycled, as nearly all plastic bottles end up as solid waste in landfills, get into the ocean, or take space in the incinerator. Plastic, in general, is a widely used material that has one of the worst disposal rates in the world.

Recycling

Recycling plastic and plastic water bottles is a must in keeping our environment clean and healthy. Reduce pollution by keeping plastic bottles for recycling, and know which types of plastic are recyclable, and which should be avoided.

Recycling starts at home. Keep a designated bin for all plastic bottles, and unload the bin to your local recycling plant once filled. Stay away from non-recyclable plastics and styrofoam. In doing so, we are not only building a world that is healthier for the environment, but healthier for us and our families too!