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Recycling Beer Bottles

By Annie Bell Muzaurieta |
You may enjoy a lime in your beer from time to time, but does that force the bottle into the trash heap? We've got the answer.
Originally Published: 11/05/09

A hangover shouldn't be your only concern when you're tossing back those brewskis. If you've twisted a lime into your beer bottle, can you still recycle it? As it turns out, yes. So you can enjoy the citrus garnish and still be environmentally responsible.

According to the New York City Department of Sanitation, glass bottles and jars are broken up in the collection and recycling process, and non-recyclable debris (i.e. your lime) is removed. You should empty containers before recycling them, but the lime won't prevent the beer bottle from living its new life, wherever you live.

Over at Grist, Umbra devised some ways to extract the lime should you still be concerned (or if you're bored at the bar). If you have a chopstick handy, you can easily remove the flavorful contaminant. But remember, it isn't really necessary.

 Soft drink, beer, food, wine, and liquor containers represent the largest source of glass generated and recovered for recycling.

In any case, recycling the bottle is the most important step. The EPA says glass should be separated by color — curbside if your local government requires it, or later at a sorting facility — because brown and green glass cannot go into new clear glass. Sorting also helps to lessen the presence of non-recyclable items that end up in the glass pile: Ceramic cups, plates and pottery, clay garden pots, crystal and opaque drinking glasses, light bulbs and mirrors.

At the recycling facility, glass is broken down into crushed pieces called cullet, which will be used to make new glass. According to the EPA, most glass manufacturers rely on cullet to make new glass, saving money and energy in the process. And of course glass can be recycled over and over again. I'll raise a glass to that.

What do you do with your empty bottles? Share in the comments below!

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Glenda M. 1 month ago
    I enjoy using glass bottles for crafts. Cheap and beautiful.
  • Jemie C. 1 year ago
    I have used wine and vodka bottles as narrow vases for dried flower arrangements. In fact, I still have one of the wine bottles from my best friend's wedding sitting on my dresser with flowers in it. I imagine you could use beer bottles in the same way; especially if you like the color of the glass.
  • Ema R. 2 years ago
    We always recycle beer bottles
  • Sara C. 2 years ago
    I give them away. You can always find someone who wants them for something.
  • sandra b. 2 years ago
    Many wine and beer bottles are so pretty that I use them as vases for just a few flowers or fillthem with glass beads and stand them in a sunny window for the sun to shine through. Beautiful!
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