What Plastics Can Become

One of the things all of us can do to protect and improve our environment is: recycling.  Today a plastic bottle may contain juice or water or soda … but what can it become after you use it?

Let’s take a look at some of the everyday plastics that you use and what they can become.


milk jugs into playgroundMilk Jugs & Other Plastic Containers

Bottles and containers used for milk, shampoo, laundry detergent and household cleaners are lightweight and tough – but they usually are made from a different type of plastic than beverage bottles.

What can they become? When they are recycled they can make new bottles and containers, plastic lumber, picnic tables, lawn furniture, playground equipment, recycling bins and more.



bag into benchPlastic Bags and Wraps

We use plastic bags to carry home groceries. They keep our bread and other food fresh. They even let us carry goldfish home from the pet store.

Today there are thousands of grocery and retail stores to collect these bags for recycling, including most Target, Walmart, Lowes, Safeway stores and more. And remember that at all these places, we also can recycle lots of the plastic wraps that protect the things we buy (even bubble wrap!).

What can they become? When they are recycled plastic bags and wraps can made into plastic lumber that is used to make park benches, backyard decks and fences – even playground equipment. They also can be recycled into new plastic bags – and then recycled again.  Check out this web site that talks about recycling plastic bags and find out where you can recycle them in your community.

bottles into shirtBotttles

Plastic bottles for soft drinks, juice and water are a handy way to conquer thirst …and they don’t shatter if you drop them.

What can they become? When plastic bottles are recycled they can be made into lots of things: t-shirts, sweaters, fleece jackets, insulation for jackets and sleeping bags, carpeting and more bottles.

It takes about 10 bottles to make enough plastic fiber to make a cool new t-shirt.

It takes 63 bottles to make a sweater.

It takes only 14 bottles to create enough insulation (fiberfill) for a ski jacket.  And 114 bottles to make enough insulation (fiberfill) for a sleeping bag.  Nearly 29.3 percent of plastic bottles are recycled in the U.S. If everyone pitches in, we can do even better.

Check out some other fun facts about plastic bottle recycling.

bottle cap into rakeBottle Caps

Plastic caps on bottles help your soda stay fizzy and keep out nasty stuff like bugs and dirt. Even though they’re made with a different type of plastic than the bottles, the caps should be put back on bottles before you toss them in recycling bins.

What can they become? Plastic bottle caps can be recycled into batteries for your car, garden rakes, storage containers, reusable shopping bags, yarn, ropes, brooms … and more bottle caps.


foam into picture frameFoam Packaging

Plastic foam packaging actually is made up of more than 95% air! It cushions your TV set and protects your video game console as they move from the factory to the store to your home.

What can it become? Innovative recycling programs can take foam packaging and turn it into plastic products such as insulation, picture frames, building products for your home … and more foam packaging.  Check out this video that shows how it’s done.


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