Bottles & Cans

Recycling Aluminum CansNext to paper, bottles and cans are the most commonly recycled materials in the United States. This category represents all glass, plastic and metal/aluminum containers. Recycling these items:

  • Saves natural resources from being mined and harvested
  • Reduces the pollution created when extracting, processing and shipping the raw materials
  • Can save your business money on disposal costs
  • Is one of the most common requests by employees for improved environmental performance at the work place

Why should you recycle bottles and cans?

Currently, all glass, plastic and metal/aluminum bottles and cans are banned from disposal in the state as part of the Massachusetts Waste Bans. This includes all beverage and food containers, and other non-toxic product containers such as detergent bottles, shampoo, aerosol cans, etc. Nearly all of these containers are made of extremely valuable and highly recyclable materials.

Massachusetts has a bottle and can deposit law (Bottle Bill) for carbonated beverages, mineral water and beer containers, which has lead to a high recycling rate for these select beverages and provides an added incentive to collect these containers. Recycling and hauling services for bottles and cans are widely available in Massachusetts. We recommend that you check with your recycling hauler on the breadth of containers they accept before starting your program.

How are bottles and cans recycled?

In Massachusetts, most residential and commercial bottle and can recycling happens at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). When your recycling container is picked up by your hauler, it is brought back to a MRF for sorting. Trucks dump the materials out on the tipping floor and the items are moved on a system of conveyor belts and sorters to group like items. These separated items are then baled and sent to recyclers that further process these materials either domestically or abroad.

What happens after bottles and cans are recycled?

Recycled bottles and cans wind up becoming a wide variety of new products:

  • Aluminum cans are recycled into new aluminum cans, rain gutters, or window frames.
  • Steel cans become new steel cans, recycled bicycles, or steel beams.
  • Glass jars and bottles are recycled into new jars and bottles.
  • Plastic bottles can be recycled into polyester fleece or carpeting, some beverage manufacturers are using small amounts of recycled plastic in their containers.

Learn about recycling other materials

For more information on other commonly recycled materials visit these pages:

Additional Resources: