Bottle Recycling 101 - Recycling Glass & Plastic
Bottles, Jars, and other Containers
The worldwide, multi-billion dollar,
bottle recycling industry performs a vital social and environmental function.
This industry not only conserves natural resources
but also employs millions of people around the world.
Recycling Plastic Bottles
or Polyethylene Terephthalate is used as a raw material for
manufacturing plastic bottles and containers as well as a wide range
of other packaged products. Examples include water, soda, alcoholic
beverages, detergents, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. PET is one of
the most popular consumer plastics used in our society today.
Post-consumer PET or recycled PET is the recycled raw material used
in a wide variety of products. To achieve pure PET, the recycled
bottles and containers are inspected for any non PET materials like
caps, lids, and product labels. These materials are removed, sorted,
cleaned, and then processed into flakes. The PET flakes are then
crushed into bales and offered for resale.
The amount of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has grown every
year since 1990 and about 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were
recycled in 2008.
Recycling Glass Bottles
has become one of the more popular recycled materials because of its
purity and ease of recycling. Glass containers are manufactured
using a variety of readily available materials, such as sand, soda
ash, and limestone.
The first process for recycling glass starts by creating cullet,
which is done by crushing the glass bottles and jars that have been
collected. Cullet is the main ingredient in new glass containers.
After the cullet is collected and melted in a furnace, it is molded
into a variety new desired shapes and sizes. This process is usually pretty
quick. Usually under 30 days.
New glass bottles are usually manufactured from up to as much
as 70% recycled materials and it is estimated that 80% of this
recycled glass ends up being new glass available for purchase. Unlike
other recyclable material, glass can be recycled over and over without
loss of quality. This is important because virgin glass consumes more
energy and resources which leads to more pollution.