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How Recycling Plastic Bottles Works

The importance of recycling plastic bottles and what happens to a bottle once you recycle it. Repurposing water bottle crafts for kids are here too!

recycling plastic bottles

We all know how important recycling plastic bottles, glass, and paper are in regards to keeping them out of our landfills. Did you know just how many things can be made out of those empty plastic bottles once they’re recycled?? I sure didn’t until I was given a tour of the CarbonLITE facility in Riverside, CA. This is where most post-consumer bottles from Southern California end up. Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring water purchases it’s recycled plastic and recycles them daily. Special thanks goes out to Arrowhead® for sponsoring this post so I could share my experience with you.

  • This is probably what you picture when you think of a recycling plant. The huge machine carrying the bales and bales of empty plastic bottles up the conveyor belt.
  • Then to the next machine that took the labels off, and off to the next. You get the idea.

It was fascinating to see just how complex the whole process was. How simple of an idea to transform a used water bottle into small cleaned plastic pieces, and then back into a “new” water bottle again.

Recycling Water Bottles

Arrowhead® Brand 100% Mountain Spring Water, which uses materials primarily collected in California has teamed up with Los Angeles-based CarbonLITE Industries LLC. They recycle more than 2 billion bottles annually. One of the largest producers of food-grade, post-consumer recycled PET in the world, to do just this.

They use up to 50% post-consumer recycled plastic (rPET) in all their new water bottles in California. What that means is, half of the materials used to make the new water bottle you’re probably drinking right now would be plastics from used water bottles. They’ve been recycled and sterilized to very high standards to ensure it is food-grade safe.

Half of the materials would be new (virgin is the term) plastics.

Arrowhead recycling program

From the company’s recycling efforts, Arrowhead® will save 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide from production each year. That’s pretty amazing to me, and so clever!

  • They’ve already accomplished this here in California with their 8oz, 12 oz., and half liter bottles. They’re on the road to expanding it to all of their single serve bottles made in the state by the end of 2016.
Recycling water bottles

Since Arrowhead® began in the San Bernardino Mountains and 11 out of 13 of their springs still reside in California they are very committed to it’s California heritage (I can appreciate that living my whole life here). I had no idea but 80% of their water is sourced in California is distributed within this state, though they have expanded into Colorado and British Columbia as well.

There is SO much you can do with every piece of a recycled water bottle and there’s really no reason not to repurpose it into things like new water bottles, fabric, park benches, carpet, and even teddy bear stuffing! Not only can the bottles themselves be turned into something new but the labels and caps too.

Not much goes to waste once it reaches a sophisticated facility like this one.

CarbonLITE recycling

This is what the recycled water bottles look like near the end of the process before they’re melted down into food-grade pellets that can then be blown into a “new” water bottle again.  It just makes sense right??!! If we can recycle and / or repurpose something old into something “new” it helps the environment, reduces the load into our landfills, and reduces the carbon footprint we leave for the next generation.

But someone has to start the movement, and they are! By Arrowhead® committing to increase the use of rPET (post-consumer recycled plastic) by about 40% it hopefully will influence others in their industry to do the same. 

It’s important to get your kids involved in repurposing and recycling plastic bottles too! Show them what happens when a water bottle is recycled and how you can create something special out of an empty water bottle like this.

Here are a 8 fun repurposing ideas for kids they might like and get them thinking about the many uses of plastic bottles once they’re empty.

repurposing plastic bottles
  1. Make a planter (seen above- cut bottle in half, use twine at bottom of dirt & other end into water to keep soil moist)
  2. Make a watering “can” (drill a hold into the cap, fill, and they can shake water out onto plants)
  3. Mail your water bottle. Fill empty dried out bottle with contents, label with address, take to post office for a stamp- it works!
  4. Make a pencil holder. Cut bottle in half, dry out, fill with pencils or markers- decorate with washi tape for extra fun.
  5. Paint holder can be made with glue and water bottle lids. Tape to a plate upside down, squeeze washable paint into each lid to keep colors separated.
  6. Make bracelets by cutting a water bottle into 1″ rings. Slide on arm for “jewelry”- wrap each one with colored washi tape for more fun.
  7. Ring toss game made with hot glue gun and empty bottles. Glue on to cardboard, use pool rings to create a ring toss game.
  8. Bowling fun by setting up water bottles on sidewalk. Use a soccer ball or bouncy ball as “bowling ball” to knock them down.

I bet you never knew how useful empty water bottles could be! Arrowhead® has partnered with the Inland Empire Waterkeeper and Crest to Coast cleanup initiatives to help the environment too.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Arrowhead. The opinions and text are all mine.

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