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Because You Asked

Because You Asked: What Happens to My Recycled Water Bottles?

Written by Recyclebank .

Plastic water bottles live out second lives as packaging, carpeting, furniture, and much more.

Dear Recyclebank,

What happens to plastic bottles after they are recycled?

-Fran A.

Most disposable water bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is marked with resin identification code #1. Other common items made from PET include household cleaning products and food packaging. The material produced when PET is recycled is called recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET).

After the bottles are collected from curbside recycling bins or drop-off sites, they are sorted at a material recovery facility (MRF) and sent to a reclaiming facility. The plastic is then washed, ground, and formed into rPET pellets. These pellets are finally sent to manufacturing plants, where they will be made into new plastic products.

While some recycled plastic bottles will indeed be turned into new PET beverage bottles, there are numerous other materials and products composed of rPET. For example, materials commonly found in clothing, such as polyester fabric, fiberfill, and fleece, can all be made from rPET. Other products composed of rPET include packaging, strapping, carpeting, car parts, mattresses and sleeping bags, insulation, furniture, and recycling bins (coming full circle!).

The production of new PET uses up non-renewable raw material (i.e. petroleum), so reducing overall use of PET is the ideal way to help the environment. While we reduce, we can also recycle the bottles that we do produce. Recycling plastic bottles helps conserve natural resources while assisting in the production of diverse, new, and useful products!

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Can you think of items you have that are made from recycled plastic? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Share this with Your Friends
  • lisa p. 1 month ago
    today, again.
  • Libby W. 6 months ago
    I normally crash down plastic water bottles to save space in my recycle bin, is that ok?
  • Sherry B. 2 years ago
    I wish we could share this knowledge with other countries. In the past 3 years, I've visited Africa and India and literally saw millions of empty water bottles everywhere, roadsides, large ditches, even condemned buildings completely filled. Third world countries need to know the benefits of recycling so maybe they can one day become self sustaining
    • Artur P. 1 year ago
      Yeah that's true. USA recycles less than 1/3 of the plastic water bottles while Brazil which is a third world country recycles more than 50%...
  • Patricia Z. 2 years ago
    The carpeting in my home is made from recycled plastic bottles.
  • joanna l. 2 years ago
    at least the pet bottles can be recycled!
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