Recycling NJ
Plastic Bottles

Bottle Caps

It is not always easy to know if you should include the plastic bottle cap with the bottle or not. Check your local town recycling instructions for details. The bottle cap can be made from polyethylene, plastics #2 or #4, or polypropylene, plastic #5 so including the cap may contaminate the recycled plastic if it is not the same plastic as the bottle.

Polyethylene caps are very easy to bend by hand. The push on caps found on some milk jugs are made from polyethylene.

Polypropylene caps are very rigid and difficult to bend by hand. Screw on caps are made from polypropylene.

There are drop off locations for bottle caps throughout the state of New Jersey.

Click here for more information on bottle cap recycling.

Plastic Bottles

Two different plastics are commonly used for the production of plastic bottles. The thin, transparent plastic bottles used for water, soda, shampoo and some cooking oil bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (plastic #1) whereas the harder, more rigid, plastic bottles used for washing detergent and milk jugs are made from high density polyethylene (plastic #2).

When people generally think of recycling, they imagine an item of waste being broken down into its raw material and then that raw material being used to make a new item of the same product. They imagine a closed recycling cycle. However, most plastic recycling in the US does not work like this.

The Environment Protection Agency says that the most common product made from recycled water and soda bottles (plastic #1) is carpet fibre. Polyethylene terephthalate waste is also used to make clothes and plastic shipping boxes.

For plastic bottles made from high density polyethylene (plastic #2) this material does primarily get used to make new plastic bottles as well as plastic lumber for fences, park benches and garden chairs.

As a lot of plastic is recycled into products that are then not easily recycled this plastic will ultimately end up in a landfill or incinerator so although plastic recycling saves energy and resources it does not yet provide a permanent sustainable solution. Any steps you can take to reduce the amount of plastic products that you consume will be the most productive steps you can take in terms of reducing the amount of waste.


It is very costly both to your wallet and the environment to drink bottled tap water. There is the cost of manufacturing the bottles, purifying the water and also the transport cost for shipping the bottled water around the country. Consider buying a faucet filter or water filtration pitcher from Brita or TerraFlo so you can purify water in your home, directly from the cold water tap. Making this change can dramatically reduce the amount of plastic waste you throw away.

If you wish to carry a bottle of water with you in your car or bag then why not buy a reusable bottle that you can fill up at home or work. The plastic from disposable plastic bottles can leech into the water if left for long period of time in a warm environment such as a car. It is therefore recommended to use stainless steel bottles that will not contaminate the water, even on a hot day.


Plastic bottles are very easy to recycle in New Jersey. They are collected in your curbside recycling box and in the bottle banks at the county municipal recycling centers. You do not even need to separate the plastic bottles into each type of plastic as both plastic #1 and plastic #2 bottles are accepted in the same container because they are easily recognized by sorting staff at the recycling facility. Remember that all of your plastic bottles are recyclable: water, soda, milk, ketchup, cooking oil, washing-up liquid, shampoo, liquid soap and clothes detergent bottles can all be recycled.

Simply rinse the plastic bottle with tap water and place it in the recycling box but remember to remove the cap.


New Jersey does not have a Plastic Bottle Deposit Redemption Scheme

We are often asked about plastic bottle redemption schemes in NJ. In some US states, such as New York, when you buy a bottle of soda or water you pay an extra 5 cents as a deposit for the bottle. You can then take the plastic bottle to certain stores in NY state and claim a refund of the deposit.

Before NJ residents start rushing off to NY to recycle their plastic bottles be aware that only plastic bottles that have a NY state deposit label on them, showing that the bottle was purchased in NY, are eligible for the refund of the deposit.

New Jersey does not have a plastic bottle deposit scheme. In New Jersey it is simply a legal requirement that individuals and businesses in New Jersey recycle plastic bottles. Municipalities save money on their waste disposal if they recycle the material instead so indirectly NJ residents save money, through lower tax rates.