It is a well-known fact that plastic bottles are not biodegradable. This means that a plastic bottle takes at least 450 years to degrade, with some even reaching a thousand years. Coupled with the current situation with the industry that spends billions of dollars and millions of resources to keep the plastic bottle business going, it becomes a serious environmental issue.
The bottled water industry, for example, releases 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is because, to produce the bottles, the industry uses 17 million barrels of oil per year. A little over 10% of the bottled beverages sold in the United States are recycled. This still leaves billions of plastic bottles to be either landfilled or incinerated.
The Environmental Protection Agency advocates for the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle attitude towards achieving a cleaner environment. Recycling plastic especially is a great way to reduce waste and allow for the repurposing of other products. You can find either curbside containers or special programs in your community that follow the EPA suggestions. So can I sell plastic? Where can I sell my plastic bottles? We will attempt to inform you as much as possible in the article below.
Sorting Your Plastic Bottles
The first step is identifying the type of plastic bottle or container you have in your hands. Manufacturers use a mix of material during the process. You can identify them by the simple symbols on the bottom. The symbols indicate the type of plastic resin used to make the container. Some recycling programs do not accept all types of plastic so these symbols will help you sort your containers. The resin number is inside a triangle on your plastic container.
Types of Plastic
- Type 1 has a PET resin content which stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate. This is a valuable mix as it offers better temperature protection and it is used to store most beverages.
- Type 2 has a HDPE resin content which stands for High-Density Polyethylene. This a very durable type of plastic.
- Type 3 has a Vinyl resin content.
- Type 4 has a LDPE resin content which stands for Low-Density Polyethylene. This is less durable than HDPE.
- Type 5 has a PP resin content which stands for Polypropylene. This is a very versatile plastic.
- Type 6 has a PS resin content which stands for Polystyrene. Polystyrene is a rather inexpensive resin per unit rate.
- Type 7 has a Mixed Plastics content.
Most programs accept Types 1 and 2, as well as the curbside containers. However, programs don’t always accept types 3 to 7 so you will need to look up those that do.
It is also good to keep in mind that some manufacturers have switched to producing plastic from polylactic acid, which is a plant derivative. This way, it is biodegradable and compostable. Even if plastics made from polylactic acid might look like type 1 plastics, the recycling process is not the same. So, in this case, it is better to compost them or throw them in the garbage as they have less impact on the environment.
Avoiding Potentially Harmful Plastics
It’s also important to keep in mind FDA’s regulations of “food-grade” plastics. This refers to the fact that you can’t recycle motor oil, antifreeze, and pesticide containers into new jugs because of chemical concerns. This means that there is a possibility the original product has contaminated the packaging. In order to recycle them, they need to be triple-rinsed during the process. Therefore, it is better to avoid packing these types of materials next to other containers so as to avoid the contamination of the entire package.
In addition, you might want to avoid reusing plastic bottles because of health risks posed by BPA. BPA is potentially more dangerous when exposed to intense heat. That is why you might want to avoid putting plastic in the microwave or in the dishwasher.
Where Can I Sell My Plastic Bottles?
According to the National Conference State Legislatures, beverage container deposit laws, or bottle bills, “are designed to reduce litter and capture bottles, cans and other containers for recycling”. Depending on the type of beverage and the volume of the container, the deposits amount from 2 cents to 15 cents. NCSL explains how the law works:
When a retailer buys beverages from a distributor, a deposit is paid to the distributor for each container purchased. The consumer pays the deposit to the retailer when buying the beverage, and receives a refund when the empty container is returned to a supermarket or other redemption center. The distributor then reimburses the retailer or redemption center the deposit amount for each container, plus an additional handling fee in most states. Unredeemed deposits are either returned to the state, retained by distributors, or used for program administration.
Currently, 10 states and Guam have established container deposit laws. The States are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. Columbia, Missouri, and Delaware have repealed these laws. NCSL lists every type of container programs will accept, the deposit amounts and where the unredeemed deposits will go.
If Your State Does Not Have a Bottle Bill
The Bottle Bill Resource guide has a comprehensive list of myths that have been part of the bottle bill opponents’ rhetoric to defeat deposit legislation. Bottle Bill is a project of the Container Recycling Institute, a non-profit organization that specializes in recycling and reusing material in order to reduce environmental waste. It is worth pushing for legislation that is viable and environmentally friendly.
Note that you cannot take your bottles and cans to another state to recycle them there. According to the Bottle Bill Guide, the deposit-refund systems is based on the concept that a bottle is bought in the state, then the deposit is paid. When the container is returned, the deposit is returned to the purchaser. In other words, if there is no deposit originally paid for in the state giving the refund, you cannot return your plastics.
Unfortunately, the current legislation in the United States has some gaps when it comes to environmental-conscious programs. People living in the states that do not include container deposit laws have the option to use curbside containers and other local recycling programs. Nevertheless, the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle should be a permanent attitude to show the interest in cutting down waste and work towards a cleaner environment.