How to Recycle a Metal Water Bottle

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Did you switch to a metal water bottle to cut back on plastic waste or because of the potential health effects of a reusable plastic bottle? No matter how durable the bottle is, you’ll eventually need to dispose of it, and recycling is a possibility.

While many reusable bottles will last for years, keep in mind that recycling is an option down the road. Photo: Flickr/rightee

Unlike disposable plastic bottles, most curbside recycling programs will not accept your sturdy steel bottle. One reason is that these programs typically crush and bale material for easy transport, and stainless steel bottles are generally uncrushable. But metal bottles are recyclable.

The first step is determining what type of metal from which the bottle is made. For recycling purposes, metal is broken down into the categories ferrous and nonferrous instead of by the individual material.

The easiest way to tell the difference is to use a magnet. If the bottle is attracted, it is ferrous metal (most likely steel), if not attracted, it’s nonferrous metal.

Metal is a valuable material to recycle, so there is a chance recycling a metal bottle can pay off. However, most scrap metal recyclers will pay based on the ton, so don’t expect one bottle to net more than a few cents.

It’s also likely that the bottle cap is made of plastic, so it should be removed it prior to recycling. While there are recycling opportunities for disposable bottle caps, most of these programs will not take the rigid cap that came on your metal bottle. It’s best to figure out a reuse option for this plastic or use it to cap other bottles.

There will be additional effort involved in recycling a reusable bottle than a disposable one, but also keep in mind that a reusable bottle can last several years, so the demand for recycling will be lower.

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