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Recycling 101 - Plastic Bottles

The most frequent question asked is:

Why can't I recycle plastic containers? Why only number one and two bottles?

First of all, let me point out that almost all plastics are recyclable - were there a market. However, just because your old socks can be turned into a stuffed animal, doesn't mean someone is going to want to collect them and do just that with them. The market for selling certain plastics is just about as fiscal as the market for your old socks, further complicated by various subsidies and infrastructure already in place for creating items from brand new crude.
With plastics, the sad truth is the only real market out there is for one and two bottles.
Now for the difference between bottles and containers: The number on the bottom of a plastic container only reflects its resin type but for recycling items must be further separated. To go back to the cloth analogy, a sock can be made out of cotton but you still wouldn't want to recycle it with socks of a different color and thickness. Similarly, plastic bottles are made with a blow molding, while containers are made with injection molding. This process of making them means that the products have different melting temperatures and need to be recycled separately. Do to the nature of our universe, there are no container recycling facilities in the mid-west. Rumor has it there are some on the east and west coast but it costs us more to ship our plastic tubs there than we could sell them for - thus they stay in our landfill or go up in smoke in our incinerator instead.

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