Most plastic jugs and bottles are 100 percent recyclable. Plastic #1 and #2 are the most commonly used forms of plastic in bottled water containers – and the most commonly collected. The plastic in jugs and bottles is lightweight, durable, flexible and, yes, at times controversial.
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Frequent Plastic Jug & Bottle Recycling Questions
What does the plastic resin code on plastic jugs and bottles mean?
Plastic household containers are usually marked with a number that indicates the type of plastic they’re made of. Consumers can then use this information to determine whether or not certain plastic types are collected for recycling in their area. It’s important to remember that these codes were not developed to communicate recyclability, but rather to communicate the unique properties of the different types of plastic. To be sure of a jug or bottle’s recyclability in your area, jump to the recycling locator.
Does the shape of a jug or bottle effects its recyclability?
Yes and no. The number one thing that affects recycling plastics is their resin code, since each resin of plastic melts at different temperatures. So plastics are often bundled by resin before melted down. Looking at the shape, which tells recyclers the molding process by which that product was made, is often the best indicator of its resin, and in turn its compatibility with other plastics during the recycling process.
This means that many recycling programs will tell you what shape of plastic they accept vs. what types of resins they accept. Some shapes that are often used to describe plastics include wide-mouth, ridged and clamshell.
Do I need to rinse plastic jugs and bottles before recycling?
Getting your plastics prepared before putting in the bin is a good idea. Labels are generally okay and it is often not required for most containers to be washed. Though clean plastics make for an easier recycling process. Also, while it has always been recommended to remove bottle caps, most programs have evolved past this need and it is actually better to keep the cap on (unless specifically noted otherwise in your curbside program). Make sure to not throw the cap in separately as it may get lost in the transportation process and become litter.
In addition to bottles and jugs, a growing number of communities are collecting and recycling plastic tubs, trays and lids. But keep in mind that mixing the wrong types of materials can lower the quality of the recycled material. So make sure you understand what types of containers your program accepts.
Are plastic jugs and bottles reusable?
Yes. As with any type of reuse, you want to make sure the material is right for the job. Check out “8 Ways & Whys to Reuse Plastic” to learn more.
Are plastic jugs and bottles dishwasher/microwave safe?
It depends. According to WiseGeek.com. if it is not labeled “microwave safe,” don’t microwave it. Good rule of thumb: don’t reheat single-use plastics more than once, if it all. Again, WiseGeek.com stats that single use plastics “are designed and approved for one use only and further usage may cause unsafe leaching into food.”