Dear Recyclebank: Are stainless steel water bottles recyclable? –Linn M.
Dear Linn: Yes, stainless steel water bottles are recyclable, however, you cannot recycle them curbside.
After leaving your home, your curbside recyclables travel to a Materials Recovery Facility, or MRF, where they are sorted, crushed, baled, and shipped to a manufacturer for reuse. Your stainless steel water bottle doesn’t make the cut because it is uncrushable by design: Great for you — not so great for your local MRF.
Instead of tossing your bottle in the recycling bin, take it down to a scrap-metal yard and recycle it there!
Reduce your carbon footprint by keeping your stainless steel bottle until you have other assorted metals to recycle, and make the trip once you’ve got a nice collection to turn over. If you don’t have a scrap-metal yard near you, consider these alternatives for reuse and disposal:
1. Donate steel bottles to a thrift store where families in need can use them.
2. Use your wide lipped water bottles to keep soup hot for lunch.
3. Store dry-food mixes, such as pancake mix, in them to bring with you on camping trips; just add water, shake, and pour onto a hot skillet.
4. Use 3 or more to make a children’s ring toss game (9 or more for 9-pin bowling!)
5. Designate an old steel water bottle for your pet — fill it up and keep it in the car so they always have water on the go.
6. Use it as a vase for holding fresh-cut flowers. When you don’t have fresh flowers in the house, use it to water your household plants.
If you’ve haven’t yet jumped on the steel-water-bottle bandwagon, consider this:
There are countless benefits to going reusable. In just one year Americans consume approximately 50 billion plastic bottles of water. Considering that the average recycling rate for plastic bottles is only 27 percent, this means we throw out around 36.5 billion plastic bottles annually.
Beyond that, producing bottled water requires about 2,000 times the energy that tap water requires. If you’re not convinced that stainless steel is the material for you, get this: One ton of virgin aluminum generates roughly 10 times more carbon dioxide than the production of a ton of steel. Consider also that aluminum is reactive to acidic liquids, so aluminum water bottles are coated with an epoxy liner that contains BPA. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is nonreactive and requires no added chemicals to safely store your hot or cold beverages.
When we look at the larger picture it seems obvious that we should use reusable stainless steel water bottles. The popularity of designer stainless steel bottles such as Swell, Camelbak, Yeti, and countless others suggests that many Americans have come to this conclusion. Perhaps this explains why reusable water bottles have been described as the new “Alpha Accessory”.