This article deals with questions like : should plastic bottles be crushed before recycling? why should plastic bottles be crushed before recycling and how to crush plastic bottles the right way. 

Plastic bottles are an indispensable means of storing and carrying fluids and water today. Most of these plastic bottles are made of PET plastic and are meant for single use. These single-use plastic bottles contribute to the majority of the plastic waste generated today.

Single-use plastic bottles are not meant to be reused. These bottles are made of fragile plastic, and using them more than once can cause harm to the human body. We also cannot just chuck them in the bin and allow them to pollute landfills and the ocean. So the only option we have is to recycle them. So how do we sort plastic bottles that are to be recycled? How do we recycle them? Should plastic bottles be crushed before recycling?

Should Plastic Bottles Be Crushed Before Recycling?

Yes, plastic bottles have to be crushed before recycling. There are a multitude of reasons behind this.


Crushing plastic bottles prevents people from reusing them.

Single-use plastic bottles are made from PET plastic which is not durable. It could gradually release chemicals into the bottles’ water or liquid (known as chemical leaching).

There is also the belief that reusing PET plastic bottles can cause a chemical called antimony to be released into the water. Plastic PET bottles can generally be reused if kept in the right condition. But extreme heat can cause antimony leaching.

Used water bottles can also be a breeding area for bacteria. Bacteria can develop in invisible cracks in single-use plastics and can be difficult to clean. So drinking water from single-use plastics can make you sick!


Crushing plastic bottles take up less space!

One of the reasons why it is important to crush plastic water bottles is because it takes up less space. There may not be plastic bottle recycling factories in every state. So There is a long transporting process before the water bottles reach the plastic recycling factory. The plastic bottles have to be collected, sorted, crushed, packed and even shipped to reach these recycling factories.

Crushing water bottles will also allow more space for other trash and more plastic bottles in trash cans. When there are hundreds of single-use plastic bottles being disposed of every day, we need to make use of every space available.


Crushing plastic bottles protects the environment.

Water bottles are a breeding ground for bacteria due to the moisture inside. When you crush these bottles, you allow less space for germs. An uncrushed plastic bottle has a minor greenhouse effect taking place within it. Heat is trapped inside the bottles, chemicals are released, and germs reproduce.

A study found that 900,000 types of germs can live inside a used water bottle, and 60% of them can make you sick.

The germs from these plastic bottles can leak into the environment and cause pollution. A crushed water bottle leaves less surface for sunlight to get in.


Crushing plastic bottles will prevent them from being misused

Yes, plastic bottles can be misused too. When we throw away a plastic bottle without crushing it, there could be people who collect these and reuse them for storing other toxic liquids.

This happens in most developing countries like Indonesia, Africa and Sri Lanka. People use single-use plastic bottles to fill them with glue, detergents, chemicals, drinks, and even cooking oil. They disregard the need to match the type of fluid with the appropriate type of plastic, and they also have no concern for microplastic release into the environment.

The dangerous chemical leaching and toxicity caused by chemical combinations in the fluid can be harmful if exposed to human beings. Crushing water bottles after use will prevent all this.


Crushing plastic bottles help the recycling process (but not always!)

One of the biggest reasons why we crush water bottles is that it helps the recycling process. Plastic has to be crushed and shredded before they are recycled. But there are some facts to consider before you crush them.

If your local recycling facility uses a single-stream recycling system, then crushing plastic bottles flat is not a good idea. Crushing them flat will cause them to end up in the paper stream. But in a multi-stream recycling system, you can crush them as flat as you like because this system sorts bottles according to the type of material.


How to crush plastic bottles after use?

Check the label if it says “crush to conserve” before you crush.

Empty the bottle of all liquid and crush it as small as you can. Try to remove as much air from it as possible. Don’t flatten it.

Replace the cap of the bottle and dispose of it in a recycling trash can meant for single-use plastic. Separated caps can cause havoc in recycling machines and can also end up in landfill. So always remember to screw on the cap of plastic bottles. Put them in recycling trash cans without plastic bags.


Should plastic bottles be crushed before recycling: Summary.

Yes, it is always wiser to crush plastic bottles before disposing of them for recycling. Crushing plastic bottles has many benefits for the environment and the recycling process. It prevents the bottles from being misused, it prevents the growth of bacteria, and it helps the recycling process. Understanding how to recycle plastic properly can help you save the environment in a multitude of ways!


Also read: What are the advantages and disadvantages of recycling?

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