Give Your Water Bottle a Second Life by Recycling
Do you think of your recyclables as trash or a product? While many people know that recycling is good for the environment, what they get used for can be a mystery. Understanding plastic recovery, in particular, can be confusing because of the different types of plastics that can and cannot be recycled. Plastics processed in our recycling center can be used to make numerous products and all of our recycling stays in the state of Georgia to help with our local economy.
The two types of plastics you can recycle in Whitfield County and Dalton are PET, noted by the #1 on your bottles, and HDPE bottles and jugs, noted by the #2 on your bottles. PET bottles are your typical water bottles and HDPE jugs are your milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.
In northwest Georgia, we recycle one-third of all the PET bottles produced in America. Why do you think so many of the bottles are recycled in Whitfield County and Dalton? I’ll give you a hint, ask yourself, “What is Dalton the capital of?” You’re probably going to say carpet (or flooring if you are keeping up with the industry). The carpet is what most of our water bottles get turned into here. Both Mohawk Industries and Shaw Industries sell carpet made for homes and businesses that is made from PET bottles. It takes 50 two-liter soda bottles to make approximately one square yard of carpet which means we need a lot of soda bottles and a lot of people pitching in.
If your bottle is not turned into carpet, you may be able to look under your car’s hood to find where your bottle ended up. Many interior parts of cars are being made out of plastic bottles to decrease the weight of the car. They can also get turned into puffy jackets for the winter or slick T-shirts for the summer.
The caps and labels should be left on those bottles. Some bottle caps are used by the same companies that make carpet out of the bottles to create the cores the carpet is wrapped around. Not only can these be used for carpet cores, but they can also get turned into toothbrush handles and yogurt cups.
HDPE bottles and jugs create some of the most fun items made out of recycled materials. These can make up playground equipment, colorful toys, or benches. This month, Learning Tree Elementary received a new bench made completely out of milk jugs for winning the Target Recycling competition.
Now that you know how useful your recyclables can be for our town and state, it’s important to understand where and how to get those bottles and jugs to the right place for processing.
As a resident of Whitfield County, you may recycle at one of four convenience centers with recycling drop-off sites, at the city of Varnell recycling drop-off or through the city of Dalton’s curbside recycling program. All of these programs only accept plastic bottles, jars, and jugs for plastic recycling. These containers are for common household products such as water, soda, juice, shampoo, laundry detergent, condiments, and cleaning products.
The easiest way to identify the plastic containers that can be recycled locally is by their shape. Typically, these containers have a base that is smaller than the neck or opening of the bottle and may have threads for a screw on lid, pump or sprayer. Plastic jugs usually have a handle that is molded into the design of the container, making the bottle and handle all one piece.
Based on the shape, plastic drinking cups, pouches, yogurt cups, and butter tubs are not yet accepted for recycling in our community.
You may look to find a number on a product to determine whether it is a #1 or #2 to be recycled, but this symbol was created to help manufacturers identify resin, not to determine what can be recycled. This means your safest bet for determining which plastics to put in the blue bin is to look at the shape.
By carefully putting the right plastics in your recycling bin, you are helping create jobs and products in your community. The next time you put on T-shirt, walk barefoot on carpet, or use a public picnic table remember it may be your bottle that you are using.