Many of the products we buy come in plastic bottles and jugs, and while reducing the plastic packaging we all use is ideal, most of us are using products in plastic bottles and jugs everyday. Each year, Americans purchase billions of plastic beverage bottles alone! Recycling plastic bottles and jugs saves energy and natural resources and is an easy way that everyone can participate in conserving natural resources through simple everyday actions. Recycling makes a huge difference!

What is a plastic bottle or jug?
Plastic bottles are containers like plastic beverage bottles, condiment bottles, and shampoo bottles. Jugs include plastic containers with a handle such as milk jugs, orange juice jugs and other beverage jugs and laundry detergent containers.

What are plastic bottles and jugs made of?
Most often, plastic bottles and jugs are typically made from #1 plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or #2 plastic, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) while the caps are often made from a different type of plastic.

Why are bottles and jugs valuable for recycling?
These types of plastics are some of the more valuable plastics in the recycling markets and can be used for a variety of purposes in products made from recycled materials.

What are bottles and jugs made into after they are recycled?
Recycled plastic bottles and jugs can be made into new bottles, jugs, and other plastic containers, plastic lumber, picnic tables, lawn furniture, playground equipment, recycling bins, t-shirts, sweaters, fleece jackets, insulation for jackets and sleeping bags, carpeting, and more!

How do I properly recycle bottles and jugs and why is it important?
It’s not only important to make sure our plastic bottles and jugs make it into our recycling bins, it’s equally important to follow a few simple steps before putting them in! Although your local recycling program will differ based on where you live, most programs accept plastic bottles and jugs. Be sure you’re not just recycling but that you’re recycling right!

  • Is your plastic item a bottle or jug? If so, it can likely go in your recycling bin! Contact your hauler or recycling coordinator so you know what other plastics are accepted in your local recycling program and rules about whether caps, lids, and other tops stay on or off
  • Did the bottle or jug hold motor oil, pesticides, or herbicides? If so, these containers typically can’t go in your household recycling program. If product remains in these containers, contact your county or municipal recycling coordinator to learn about household hazardous waste collection events in your area.
  • Keep it empty! Make sure to empty all food, liquids, and other contents out of bottles and jugs before placing them in the recycling bin.
  • Keep it clean! Give it a quick rinse if you can. It doesn’t have to be pristine, what’s most important is that large amounts of food or liquids have been removed.
  • Are any beverage bottles marked with a NY 5 cent deposit? If so, these bottles are part of NY’s Bottle Bill. You may want to set these aside to return and recycle at a local redemption center.
  • Put it in the bin! Place your clean, empty bottles and jugs in your home recycling bin and pat yourself on the back for recycling right! You make a difference.

What are alternatives to bottles and jugs to reduce plastic?
When we find ourselves with plastic bottles and jugs, the best thing to do is to recycle or reuse them. But there is an even better more environmentally friendly option! Reduction and reuse. Some options to reduce the number of plastic bottles and jugs you use are:

  • Plan! Read about plastic free alternatives and plan before heading to the store or shopping online
  • Find alternatives that require less plastic such as drink mixes over single serving bottles.
  • Look for options that are totally plastic free. Many options exist as waste reduction has grown in popularity as a preferred sustainable choice that realizes the maximum environmental benefit.
  • Start small– you may surprise yourself with how much you like these new and exciting options! Give it a try!