Can You Recycle and Reuse Plastic Bottles?

Plastic bottles have always been a strange topic when it comes to recycling. Even though many bottles are being made from recyclable plastics, a lot of people still remember the days where none of them could be recycled, and that association has stuck in their head for years.

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There are a lot of ways to recycle your old bottles, and those that you can’t recycle can be reused. But what can you actually do with them, and how do you tell which is which?

Identifying recyclable bottles

A lot of recycling-friendly plastic bottles will have specific graphics on their label or cap that explain which parts are recyclable. For example, some bottles can be recycled while their caps can’t, and others have particular neckpieces that need to be thrown away normally.

Plastic bottles are one of the biggest contributors to landfill sites and other wasteful disposal options. Some companies may take in non-recyclable bottles to reuse them (and occasionally give you a very small award per bottle), but on their own, they can’t always be recycled.

Reusing them, however, is another matter entirely. There are plenty of ways to reuse bottles that you can’t otherwise recycle, many of which do not even require that much extra work.

Reusing Bottles

If you have a bunch of bottles that can’t be thrown in the recycling, and you do not want to let them go straight to a landfill, then here are some things you can do with them. These are very small-scale projects that do not take much effort, but they can really make a difference.


A plastic bottle actually makes a great storage option for water, seasoning, salt, sugar, or even nuts and other small food items. While they are often see-through and should thus be kept away from direct sunlight, they allow you to see exactly how much of the contents you have left.

Bottles are also generally airtight – or at least close to airtight – which might make them a useful option for keeping things contained in fridges. Not only does this trap the cold in a little longer, but it means that things will not rot if the freezer breaks or turns off.

It does not have to be food, either. There are a lot of smaller things that you could store in a plastic bottle, from breath mints to nails and other scrap materials. Naturally, water and other liquids work extremely well, too, making it a handy method of storing drinks that you have already opened.


A plastic bottle can be a great planter option. Cutting them in half gives you the entire bottom half to work with: not only is the material water-tight and resistant to natural corrosion, but most bottles have little legs that raise them up off the ground.

These recycled planters still leave you with the top half of the bottle, but there are other ways to reuse that half specifically. Having these planters gives you an easy way to grow a few extra plants, helping the environment in the long term and reducing your waste.


Speaking of plants, another common trick is to use bottles as either sprinklers or watering cans. Cutting a few holes in the lid of a bottle makes a nice watering-can-style sprinkle effect, which can be important if you want to get good water coverage without dumping an entire bottle on plants.

However, the sprinkler is the more interesting option. By punching some small holes in a large bottle and plugging a hose into the end, you can spray water in every direction without having to buy your own sprinkler system. Some people even add protruding “funnels” for a wider spread.


A lot of families that have children will end up with plenty of plastic bottles, whether that is drinks bottles or other substances that they have needed to use to clean up after their child. However, you can always consider washing some of these bottles out and turning them into basic but handmade toys.

This might mean converting two large bottles into a back-mounted “jetpack,” crafting a little spaceship out of a large bottle and two small ones, or even sticking some wheels on a detergent bottle to make your own toy car. They might not be fancy, but they are cheap and fun to play with.

Disposing of bottles

In the event that you have a lot of bottles left over, disposing of them can be tricky. If you have a lot of recycled plastic, it can be tough to actually fit it all into one recycling bin – and you can have the same problem if you are throwing away non-recycled plastic.

If you have an excessive amount of materials to throw away or recycle all at once, then consider hiring one of our dumpsters. Even the smallest options can be suitable for a good amount of recycled material, especially if that includes entire pieces of furniture.

Some people save up their recyclable bottles and then hand them in all at once. However, you might want to consider putting all of your bottles in a dumpster and sending them over together – dumpster rentals do not require you to do anything involving the pick-up process, making it much easier for you.

Remember that most bottles will have their recyclable or non-recyclable status marked on their label. Do not tear the label off a bottle until you have sorted it properly since many can look almost identical without their label, even if one is not recyclable and another one is.


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