Mike's Blog


A Day in the Life of a Recycled Plastic Bottle...

A Day in the Life of a Recycled Plastic Bottle....

Ever since the 80's when officials became increasingly aware of quickly filling landfills, recycling of plastic bottles has become as normal as throwing the trash out. In fact...nearly 80% of all households now have access to curbside or site recycling for plastics. But exactly what's it like for a day in the life of a recycled plastic bottle.

Step 1  Bottles are deposited in recycling bins

Step 2  Trucks carry the discarded bottles to a recycling center also known as a MRF(Materials Recovery Facility).

Step 3   Bottles are sorted by type(water, detergent, yogurt, soda, ketchup, etc)

Step 4  The bottles are then condensed into large 1000 pound bales that contain 7,000 to 8,000 bottles.

Step 5  Reclaimers then buy the bales by the truckload and have them shipped to their own manufacturing center

Step 6  At the manufacturing facility the bales are ripped apart with machinery and raked onto conveyor belts.

Step 7  The plastic is the shredded, washed, rinsed and dried

Step 8  The shredded plastic is then fed into an extruder which melts the plastic and forces the melted plastic into strands kind of like a big spaghetti maker.

Step 9  The strands are chopped into tiny pellets.

Step 10 The pellets are then sold to plastic product manufacturers. Depending on the product- the pellets are melted again, color added, etc.

That water bottle that you recycled is now a park bench, a deck board, a shoe, a lunch tray or even a T-shirt. There are literally thousands of uses for recycled plastic. And when the user of that product is done- the cycle can be started all over again....



Mike Hogan

Associate Broker

RE/MAX Commonwealth





Comment balloon 3 commentsMike Hogan • July 26 2009 10:38PM


Very cool "day in the life".  I hear there may start to be "deposits" on water bottles to encourage recycling.

Posted by Stanton Homes, Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina (Stanton Homes - New Home Builder) over 9 years ago


Posted by Bethany Phillips, MBA over 9 years ago

Good post, when I used to teach Biology and Ecology I would always have my students write "A Day in the Life of... a drop of water, a piece of food (traveling through the digestive system), etc..." stories

Posted by Christine McInerney, The McInerney Team, Knoxville TN Homes For Sale (Great Life RE) over 9 years ago