A lot of your baby items can easily be reused or donated. Some items such as baby bottles however can’t be used over and over. Eventually, they might become stained or scratched and not ideal for reuse. Over time, smaller components may become damaged or lost. With that said, what can you do with these bottles and are baby bottles recyclable?
Fortunately, depending on what they’re made of, baby bottles can be recycled. Baby bottles made from glass, silicone and polypropylene plastic can be recycled. Older baby bottles made from harder, polycarbonate BPA plastic don’t qualify for recycling. When recycling, simply separate the various bottle components.
- All baby bottles made from Polypropylene plastic, glass and silicone can be recycled
- Some bottles may contain components that can’t be recycled – separate these components
- Bottles labeled with recycling numbers, 2, 4, 5 and 6 can be easily recycled
- Each type of material is recycled differently and reused for other products
- Most prominent brands use recyclable materials but smaller components may not be
- Many baby bottle brands use recyclable packaging material
Why Should You Recycle Baby Bottles?
Baby bottles, like any other type of plastic, can be harmful to the environment. Essentially, chlorinated plastic can’t be broken down with chemical assistance and as a result, can release toxic chemicals into the surrounding soil. This in turn seeps into the groundwater and other water sources in the area.
When these microplastics are released into the environment they are consumed by animals and even people. Some of the negative effects of microplastics include reduced feeding and energy deficiencies. Since plastic isn’t very biodegradable, it stays in landfills for years. Plastic is one of the top culprits in the planetary pollution crisis.
While glass may not contain harmful chemicals, it can easily break and hurt animals or people. Out of all the materials, baby bottles are made from, glass is the easiest to recycle.
Here’s a short clip that emphasizes the importance of recycling all types of plastic, including baby bottles.
What are Recyclable Baby Bottles Made From?
Up until 2013, there was no ban on using BPA in baby bottles. These older bottles with the harder, BPA plastic can’t be recycled. Modern bottles (manufactured after 2013) are essentially made up of food-grade plastic called polypropylene, glass, pharmaceutical-grade silicone, or stainless steel which can all be recycycled.
When I looked at the differences between plastic and glass baby bottles, this was one my biggest realizations: you need to watch out for some specific plastic types in terms of recyclability.
To summarize, here are the types of baby bottle materials that can be recycled.
- Pharmaceutical-grade silicone
- Polypropylene plastic
- Stainless steel
When Should You Recycle Baby Bottles?
Parents usually consider recycling their used (and old) baby bottles when their little ones no longer need them. Additionally, it might be time to buy new bottles or even change brands as your baby’s needs change. If you have unused new bottles, returning and exchanging baby bottles may be also an alternative to recycling new bottles.
While some bottles might still be in good enough condition to donate, others may be older, stained or scratched. Rather than throw them in the trash and add to the landfill crisis, many parents opt to recycle bottles made of recyclable materials.
How are Baby Bottles Recycled in Each State?
Many U.S. states eagerly adopt avid recycling programs. This not only includes regular household items but also baby bottles and components made of glass, silicone and of course Polypropylene.
The U.S. currently has 633 material recycling facilities across all 50 states. If you aren’t already familiar with a recycling center in your area, simply call 1(800)CLEANUP for the closest location. Alternatively, log onto Google and enter the material you need to recycle as well as your zip code and search. That will provide you with a list of recycling facilities in your area.
Essentially, recyclables are sent to different recovery facilities. Here the bottles are sorted, cleaned and sent to processing plants where the materials are prepared for re-use. Materials like glass can be recycled indefinitely without any breakdown of the original materials. That’s why it’s always a good idea to opt for glass baby bottles!
How To Prepare Your Baby Bottles for Recycling
Once you’ve decided to recycle your baby bottles, you need to make sure they can actually be recycled. Fortunately, it’s a very simple process.
Baby bottles, like other plastic bottles, have a different recycling number listed on the bottom. These numbers grade the product for recycling. Here’s what they mean.
- #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) refer to plastic containers
- #4 refers to plastic bags
- #7 refers to mixed plastics such as polycarbonates and aren’t recyclable
Most recycling companies and centers will accept any plastic labeled #2, 4, 5 and 6. Glass and silicone will also be accepted since they don’t contain any polycarbonates. Once you’ve established whether or not your bottles are recyclable, there’s a simple procedure to follow to get them ready for recycling.
Washing the Bottles
The first step should always be to wash the bottles. Never discard bottles with milk, food or formula in them. Leaving contents in the bottle will create bacteria and contaminate other products in the recycling bin.
Take the Bottles Apart
Some baby bottles contain smaller components that serve different functions. Some of these components may not be recyclable or may need to go into a different recycling bin.
Placing Each Component in The Right Recycle Bin
Recycling bins are usually divided into different materials. This means you’ll separate each component and place it in the relevant bin. Never mix glass, plastic and silicone components.
How Are Baby Bottles Recycled?
The methods used to recycle baby bottles largely depend on the material it’s made of. Some of the common recycling methods include the following:
- Glass: With glass, the glass recycling process starts with a pre-treatment process which essentially removes any plastic or paper particles. Metal traces are removed with magnets. The glass is then sorted by color and sterilized to remove any impurities and bacteria. The glass is then crushed, melted and molded into new products.
- Polypropylene plastic: Different plastics are sorted, cleaned, shredded, melted and remolded. When plastic is melted, the polymer chains that make it up are broken down. Plastic is shredded into flakes or melted to be remolded into new products.
- Silicone: For the most part, silicone recycling involves grinding the silicone down and creating shredded granules. These finer granules are then poured into a prepared mold and mixed with fresh silicone. The fresher silicone makes it easier for the old particles to adhere to one another. This also means you won’t find a silicone product made from 100% recyclable material, but it’s still better than throwing it in the landfill.
- Stainless steel: Stainless steel is in principle recyclable, however you need to check with the recycle facility near you if they really accept bottles. Such bottles are made hard to crush and the problem it poses is that most facilities’ recycling methods are based on bending, crushing metal.
Are these baby bottle brands recyclable?
The varying materials that baby bottles are made of might leave you wondering where your favorite brand fits into the recyclable picture. Let’s take a look at the most popular brands and whether or not they can be recycled.
Are Avent Baby Bottles Recyclable?
According to Philips, all their Avent baby bottle components except the silicone nipple can be recycled. Glass bottles are both recyclable and sustainable. As a bonus, parents who are aiming for increased sustainability will be delighted to know that all Avent packaging is also made from 100% recyclable material.
Are Tommee Tippee Baby Bottles Recyclable?
Tommee Tippee’s top two bottles, the Closer to Nature and Advanced Anti-Colic bottles are made from polypropylene, making them suitable for recycling. Unlike many other brands, all of Tommee Tippee’s feeding components can be recycled. This includes the teat, lid and bottle ring.
Are Medela Baby Bottles Recyclable?
Medela baby bottles are BPA-free which means they can easily be recycled. It’s generally recommended that you replace your Medela bottles every 6 to 12 months. The bulk of Medela products have a recycling code of #5.
Are MAM Baby Bottles Recyclable?
One of MAM’s most common selling features is that most of its bottles and packaging materials have already been recycled. Since 98% of their materials are either made from polypropylene or silicone, they can easily be recycled. Their glass bottles and latex pacifiers are also easily recyclable.
Are Comotomo Baby Bottles Recyclable?
Unlike many brands that primarily use polypropylene, Comotomo uses pharmaceutical-grade silicone. Since silicone is a synthetic material made of sand and oxygen, it can be recycled and reused. The only real difference with recycling silicone is that it requires some new silicone to be added to the mix to create adhesion with the shredded silicone. More good news is that silicone materials can easily be heard without any harmful chemicals leaking out.
Are NUK Baby Bottles Recyclable?
With NUK bottles, it’s important to check for the right recycling symbol as they do have products and components that aren’t recyclable. For the most part, their bottles are made of BPA-free polypropylene. Their glass bottles are made from borosilicate glass which is easily recycled.
Are Playtex Baby Bottles Recyclable?
Playtex bottles are also recyclable. However, the liners that come with the Playtex nurser are not recyclable. Some parents have noted that some recycling centers don’t take Playtex bottles. If you’ve decided from the get-go that you want to recycle your baby bottles, it’s a good idea to check with your recycling center beforehand if they’ll take them.
|Bottle Brand||What Can Be Recycled?|
|Avent||All bottle components except the nipples|
|Tommee Tippee||Bottles and lose components|
|Medela||Bottles and additional components|
|MAM||Bottles, components and packaging|
|Comotomo||All plastic and silicone components|
|NUK||Glass and plastic bottles and most components|
|Playtex||Bottle liners can’t be recycled|
Just like knowing which bottle brands are BPA-free, understanding which brands are made of recyclable materials may be a deciding factor in choosing the right bottles from the onset. It’s a good idea to check with your local area about the recycling centers in your area. Recycling your baby bottles will give you peace of mind that your baby bottles aren’t clogging up the landfills!
As a last tip, I suggest that you take a look at stainless steel bottles, which have a lot of pros and it’s becoming more and more popular.