How to Recycle PET Plastic Bottles and Save Our Oceans + Planet

How many of you went to the beach this summer? Give us a show of hands.

Now, how many of you saw empty plastic drink bottles at the beach this summer? Were they in a trash can? On the sand? In the water? If you saw any random bottles, did you grab them up before they floated away?

If you had water or soda or tea in plastic bottles, what did you do with them when you were finished?

So many questions…and so many plastic bottles that should be recycled. Let us throw out some numbers on plastic bottles. Did you know :

  • The United States produces 40 billion plastic bottles each year, mostly for water,  juice and soda. That’s a ton of plastic bottles! And, we have to admit, they’re a convenient way to enjoy our fave drinks!
  • Only 29% of these plastic bottles are recycled despite the fact that PET plastics bottles can be recycled over and over again into new bottles. Why is that?
  • Roughly 70% of these plastic bottles are dumped into landfills or, worse yet, end up on our beaches; in our oceans, rivers and streams; or scattered through our communities. Not only is this an eyesore, but it also trashes up the environment. It’s also a waste of water that can be recycled.

We Need More Plastic Bottle Recycling – and We Need Your Help

Food grade rPET

If Evergreen could, we’d wave a plastic wand and  every single used PET plastic bottle would show up at our recycling facilities in Clyde, Ohio, and Riverside, California. Then we’d recycle the post-consumer PET bottles into food-grade rPET, small pellets of high-quality recycled plastic that U.S. beverage and food companies can use in new bottles and jars. We’d also make non-food-grade rPET for other products like jars for health and beauty products and bottles for household cleaners. It’s amazing the things that can be made from recycled plastic bottles.

Right now, Evergreen recycles more than 2 billion PET plastic bottles a year. But the demand for rPET is more than we can satisfy. So we are asking everyone to make sure every plastic bottle is placed in a recycling bin and not trashed. If we all do our part, we’ll close the loop on plastic bottles. No more bottles in landfills. No more bottles in the ocean. Just a more beautiful planet.

Here’s the Step-by-Step Way to Recycled PET Plastic Bottles

Believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way to recycled PET plastic bottles. Here’s what Evergreen recommends:

Step 1: Get a recycling bin for your home or office. Some cities have community recycling programs and will provide a covered cart or open bin free of charge to your home or business on request. The check city’s website. If there is no community recycling program, you can take your plastic bottles to a local collection center. A quick web search should turn one up for you.

Step 2: Check empty bottle for recycling code. Recyclable plastic bottles will have the three-arrow recycling symbol on the label or molded into the bottle itself. PET plastic bottles will have the three-arrow recycling symbol and will often have the number one. Put all plastic bottles with the recycling symbol into your recycling bin. Evergreen especially wants the #1 PET bottles!

Step 3: Empty bottle of residual contents. Before placing your plastic bottles in your recycling bin or cart, make sure it’s empty. You don’t have to rinse the bottle. Recyclers like Evergreen process the bottles so any residual material is washed off.

Step 4: Do not remove the label. While it’s tempting to remove the label, leave it on the bottle. The reason for this is some states like California have deposit redemption programs that reward consumers for returning used bottles. The label includes information for tracking the bottles and administering the program. Recyclers like Evergreen will remove the label once the bottles have been redeemed.

Please, don’t put anything in your empty plastic bottle before placing it in your recycling bin. That’s a big no-no as it interferes with plastic recycling and could make the bottle unusable

Bales of PET bottles awaiting recycling

Step 5: Keep the cap on the bottle and the bottle intact. Although bottle caps are made of different kind of plastic, typically polypropylene, they can also be recycled and the recycled content used in new products. So keep those caps on! And while it’s tempting to crush your PET plastic bottles, keep them intact so states with deposit redemption programs can more easily track returned bottles.

Once all plastic bottles are accounted for, the city recycling program or other aggregator will compact them and take them to recyclers like Evergreen in huge bales like these.

Step 6: Deposit the plastic bottles into a recycling bin. You can toss all of your recyclables – bottles, aluminum and steel cans, cardboard boxes and other materials in the same recycling bin or cart. Recyclers like Evergreen will sort it for you to ensure everything goes to the right recycling stream.

Can We Count on You to Recycle?

Our world will be a better place when everyone recycles their PET plastic bottles and other materials. Please share your new knowledge about the right way to recycle with others – school kids, co-workers and seniors. If you have questions, please visit the EvergreenTogether website or email us at [email protected]. We’re here to get Every Bottle Back and Recycle!

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