Do Plastic Recycling Companies Prefer Bottles Flattened?


Most recycling centers prefer flattened bottles, but whether your local center does depends on the sorting technology and transportation it uses, and the types of materials it accepts. Recyclers that prefer flattened bottles want to save on space when transporting the bottles, and help residents save space in their recycle bins. Companies that sort bottles manually prefer flattened bottles. Recycling used plastic products, including bottles, involves five steps; collecting waste plastic, sorting, washing and removing labels, shredding and performing chemical tests, and melting shredded pellets to mold them into desired plastic products.

Relevance of Shape

  • Some companies use a machine to sort used bottles, and others do it manually. Companies that sort the bottles manually, are not concerned with shape, as shape does not interfere with any of the recycling stages. Instead, flattening the bottles saves the company on storage space. Companies that use machines to sort the bottles, however, prefer them in their original shape so that the sorting machine works properly. In addition, flattened bottles save on space, so it is easier to transport more bottles. However, a recycling company pays more attention to the type of plastic than the shape of the bottle.

Recycling According to Plastic Numbers

  • Most companies accept any kind of waste plastic bottle for recycling. However, others only recycle specific types of plastic waste products. These companies look out for triangles formed by arrows around single-digit numbers, ranging from 1 to 7. The Society of the Plastics Industry introduced these symbols so that people could easily identify the type of resin used to manufacture a product, and the recycling process for each of them differs slightly.

Characteristics of Recyclables

  • It is important to ensure that the bottles are clean. Most recycling companies reject plastics that contained paints, paint thinners, herbicide or fungicide. Recycling companies insist that bottles should be stored separately from their caps. Bottle caps have different chemical characteristics than the bottle, and so they melt at different temperatures. For instance, soda and water bottles are manufactured from PET#1, while caps are made from #5 or polypropylene. Caps can also cause a safety hazard in the sorting facility.

Plastics Without Recycling Codes

  • Any plastic products that do not have recycling number symbols on them are mostly not collected for recycling. Products like computer hardware, toys, pipes and tarps are examples of plastics that don't have a recycling code. Such products are usually made from materials that are not among the seven categories of recyclable plastics, or are made of combinations of different materials.


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