Plastic #1 (PET) Put in Container Recycling Rigid #1 plastic containers such as bottles, jars, tubs and trays belong under the blue lid of a split recycling cart or in a larger cart or bin labeled “Containers Only.” They must be empty and should be scraped/rinsed if possible. Lids can be left on. Removed lids belong in the garbage. #1 plastic items that are not rigid containers belong in the garbage. Clean Out Containers If a container once held food, clean and dry the container as well as you can before recycling it. Containers with food, liquids and other residues can contaminate whole batches of recycling and are often sent to a landfill. Not Safe to Reuse PET plastic has a porous structure that absorbs bacteria over time and becomes more porous with each use. Because germs can reside inside the plastic, you can’t always wash them away. Avoid Heating Plastic Keep plastics containing food or drink out of the microwave, dishwasher and other hot places, like your car. The warmer plastic gets, the more it tends to break down, melt and release chemicals. Not Infinitely Recyclable Plastic isn’t infinitely recyclable in the same way that glass and metal are. Its quality declines each time it’s recycled, so new plastic needs to be added in order to keep recycling it. Ways to Reduce Opt for Reusable Containers Most plastic is made directly from oil and natural gas, not recycled plastic. When plastic does get recycled, it is often into products that are no longer recyclable. Metal and glass, which are durable and can be recycled infinitely, are always a better container choice. Drink Filtered Tap Water Disposable water bottles are made of plastic #1 and can be avoided by drinking filtered tap water instead. Most bottled water comes from the tap in the first place, and taste tests in cities such as New York have favored tap over bottled water. Did You Know? Bottled Water: Is It the Same as Tap? Most bottled water is simply filtered tap water, and it can cost more than twice as much as what’s available from the tap. Largest Plastic Bottle Recycling Plant The Atlantic details the violent afterlife of plastic bottles. Plastic from these bottles lives as long as 500 years after you toss them. Read more about what happens to the bottles during that time, and why not enough bottles are making it into the recycling system at all.