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Should we flatten or compress plastic bottles before putting them for recycling?

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Plastic bottles should be recycled. However, there was still some uncertainty regarding the need to crush or compact them before recycling. While all sorting centers do not all operate in the same way, they have an answer to this important question.

Crush the bottle vertically

Waste sorting and selective collection are beneficial actions for the environment insofar as they are accompanied by efficient recycling. However, it would still be necessary to be able to properly sort the waste. However, the subject of compaction is important, especially with regard to plastic bottles. Should we leave them intact? Should the caps be removed? Should they be flattened or compacted vertically? On the Internet unfortunately, the sources contradict each other. Some mention the need to compress plastic bottles. Others claim the opposite. Answering this question is therefore quite difficult, especially since the sorting centers do not all operate in the same way.

Overall, however, these same sorting centers recommend crushing the bottle. in the height and with the stopper (see image below). In addition, the issue of the plug will soon be settled definitively. Indeed, the Directive 2019/904 of the European Parliament of June 5, 2019 will make the inseparable nature of corks and bottles compulsory by 2024.


Some precautions to take

Thus, citizens are called upon to crush their plastic bottles in the height. They can do it by hand or using a bottle compressor. On the other hand, they should not be flattened, because the sorter in the waste center risks confusing them with cardboard boxes which can be flattened. The point is that plastic bottles and cartons do not take the same path at all for recycling.

Logically, these actions can save space in the bins of individuals. On the other hand, it should be remembered that sorting centers advise to pay close attention to do not “nest” waste recyclable. This involves, for example, avoiding placing cans in plastic packaging or plastic trays in cardboard packaging. Here again, the sorter will show difficulty in recognizing the nature of the waste to be sorted.

Finally, let us mention the fact that in terms of sorting technology, progress is rather rare. However, some are very encouraging. In 2019, researchers at MIT developed the RoCycle robot. The latter having the sense of touch is able to recognize waste and could therefore in the near future carry out sorting operations for recycling.


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