The Process of Recycling Plastics

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The simple act of throwing away a water bottle can make a big impact on the environment.

We use billions of plastic bottles to hold everything from soap to soda. Almost 80% of the plastic beverage bottles we use end up in landfills, instead of recycling centers.

Recycling is labor intensive; that single water bottle you threw away takes quite a journey. After you throw it in a recycle bin, it's collected at the curb along with milk jugs, cans, glass, and paper. Then, it goes to a collection site.

Soda bottles, milk jugs and liquid laundry detergents go into separate bins since they are all made from different materials. Water bottles can be broken up and eventually become carpet, or a plastic ruler, among other items. For example, 14 green soda bottles can provide enough material to make a t-shirt. And, less than 100 bottles could provide the filling for a sleeping bag.

There are plenty of uses for recycled plastic containers. Right now, there's not enough commitment to recycle so landfills continue to grow, and petroleum prices continue to climb.

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