Let’s be honest with each other for a second: recycling isn’t always as easy as just throwing an old cardboard box in the designated bin. In fact, when it comes to recycling plastics, things can get downright tricky. That’s because not all plastic is manufactured equal; different plastics are born of different materials and processes. As a result, not every type of plastic can be readily chucked in your recycling bin without a second thought.

Reusable glass water bottles can be recycled indefinitely

The way you determine which plastics can be recycled is by looking at the recycling number (you know, the 1-7 number in the triangle on the bottom of your item). The number we’re most concerned with today is the number one, which indicates that the item is made from PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. Why are we focused on the number one? Well, most single-use disposable plastic water bottles are made from this type of plastic – the kind of water bottles that our reusable water bottles are meant to replace. Here’s the scoop on this type of recyclable plastic, and why a reusable water container is still preferred over one that you can recycle.

What Are Number 1 Plastics?

Face it, you probably don’t know what polyethylene terephthalate plastic is off the top of your head (hey, we still had to Google how to spell it). PET plastic is what most single-use bottled beverages are made from, things like soft drinks, water bottles, and even some beer bottles. That’s because PET is cheap, lightweight, and theoretically easy to recycle (we’ll get into that “theoretically” later).

Other examples of products made from PET plastic include salad dressing bottles, peanut butter jars, cosmetics packaging, and household cleaner packaging. Notice a pattern here? They’re all single-use items (again, because the plastic is so cheap and lightweight to work with). That means you shouldn’t reuse that bottled water you picked up at the gas station because chemicals may leach out of the plastic, especially if you’ve been in high temperatures (if you truly want to be environmentally friendly, have a reusable water bottle on hand instead).

What Are Number 1 Plastics Recycled Into?

Number 1 plastics are often recycled into polyester fiber for fleece clothing, tote bags, and straps, as well as furniture and carpeting. It can occasionally be recycled into new containers, but not often.

Even though PET plastics are typically picked up by your municipal recycling system, not many people take advantage of this service. In fact, the United States’ recycling rate for plastic is only 23%, meaning around 38 billion water bottles are wasted each year.

Why A Reusable Water Container Is Still Your Best Bet

Well, see above. Sure, it’s technically pretty easy to recycle PET plastics, but in all honesty, you’re not likely to do so every single time you purchase a single-use plastic water bottle.

Why not make it easy on yourself and grab a reusable water bottle? Buying a reusable water container is more environmentally friendly than buying a single-use water bottle on the go several times a week (bonus points if you use a glass water bottle, since glass is 100% recyclable). Plus, it’s way easier on your wallet. Instead of spending a dollar every time you need some water, you’ll pay once and then fill up your water bottle for free from then on out, saving you hundreds of dollars down the line. Reducing waste and reusing your water bottle – now that’s something we can get behind.

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  • Mark mezger

    I just got the black 30oz with the screw on top and it says no carbonated drinks could you tell me why please and does beer fall under that category. Thank you.

  • Richard

    Recycling – It is better to look for plastics that are safer for your family and the environment. Its hard to avoid plastics completely.

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