Can I reuse plastic water bottles?

In this article we discuss whether one can reuse a plastic water bottle for drinking purposes. Furthermore, we also discuss the safety aspects of doing so, and the potential threat it can pose to human health.

Can I reuse plastic water bottles?

Most plastic water bottles are safe for reusing at least for a few times, and can be rinsed with soap water after each use. 

However, some plastic water bottles are meant for single-time use, and should be disposed of once you are done with them.

What are plastic bottles made of?

Plastic bottles may be constructed from a wide range of resins and organic chemicals that can be synthesised into synthetic polymers.

A recycling code is inscribed on plastic bottles. This number identifies the type of plastic used to make them.

The plastic codes vary from one to seven. These labels are intended to aid with batch sorting during recycling:

#1polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
#2high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
#3polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
#4low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
#5polypropylene (PP)
#6polystyrene (PS)
#7other

Plastic bottles are made from a variety of materials. The majority of plastic bottles created today are made of #1, #2, or #7 polymers. Continue reading to understand more about these three different sorts of plastics.

#1 – polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)

Polyester’s chemical name is polyethylene terephthalate. PET does not include phthalates, despite its name.

Other potentially harmful compounds, such as BPA, are likewise absent. Aldehyde and antimony are present in trace levels.

When a plastic container is exposed to heat, such as being left out in the sun or in a hot automobile, antimony has been discovered to leach out into the liquid it contains. PET bottles are designed and manufactured as one-time-use only goods. 

Despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised PET bottles for both single use and reuse, many manufacturers and consumer groups advise consumers to use PET bottles just once.

#2 – high-density polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE plastic is now regarded as a low-hazard, low-leaching material. However, Nonylphenol, a component of HDPE, has been discovered to be toxic to aquatic life. 

Nonylphenol is an endocrine disruptor as well, according to reliable sources. This implies it might have an impact on your endocrine system, which regulates hormones.

It’s crucial to remember that nonylphenol can seep from HDPE bottles, although this hasn’t been confirmed conclusively. 

High-density polyethylene is a strong material that is resistant to bacterial development. Heat and sunshine are supposed to have no effect on it.

Large bottles, such as milk jugs and gallon-sized water bottles, are made of HDPE. These bottles are only meant to be used once. They may be reused in a variety of ways.

#7 – other

Bottles with the recycling number #7 are frequently, but not always, composed of BPA-containing polycarbonate polymers or epoxy resins (bisphenol A).

BPA may leak from plastic containers into the liquid or food they hold in small levels. “BPA is safe at present levels prevalent in foods,” according to FDATrusted Source.

BPA, on the other hand, is an endocrine disruptor that has been related to a variety of health problems, including:

  • male and female infertility
  • prostate cancer
  • breast cancer
  • precocious (early) puberty

BPA may harm the brain and prostate glands in foetuses, babies, and children, as well as impact their behaviour.

Use caution while using bottles with this code. They should never be heated or reused.

#7 plastics are sometimes used to make large containers and bottles that store 3, 5, or more gallons of water.

Why plastic bottles are bad for our environment

According to the United Nations, over 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year. More than 8 million tonnes of this material ends up in our seas. 

Plastics are mistaken for food by animals, fish, and seabirds, contaminating coral reefs and killing them. The production of all sorts of plastic necessitates a tremendous amount of energy. 

It also releases poisons and contaminants into the atmosphere, water, and groundwater. This adds to global warming and increases the toxic burden on the globe, which has an impact on humans and animals.

Our streets are littered with plastic bottles, marring the national environment. They clog our landfills and take hundreds of years to degrade. 

When they’re burned, they leak poisons into the environment, which contribute to health and environmental issues. 

When you consider that most plastic bottles are only meant to be used once, the solution is obvious: use fewer plastic bottles. Change them out for long-term alternatives that will not hurt the environment as much.

Concerns associated with plastic water bottles

There are certain concerns associated with plastic water bottles not only with respect to the environment, but also to human health. Some of these concerns are:

  • Microplastic contamination
  • Growth of bacteria
  • Leaching of chemicals due to physical processes

We shall discuss these three aspects in more detail.

Microplastic contamination

According to one research Trusted Source looked at bottled water from a variety of producers in a variety of nations. Microplastics were identified in 93 percent of them, according to the researchers.

Microplastics are small plastic particles that seep from the container they’re kept in into fluids or food. It’s probably safe to reuse plastic bottles with codes #1 and #2 on occasion, as long as you follow specific measures.

Don’t reuse the #7 bottles unless you’re very positive it doesn’t contain BPA. It’s also possible that you don’t want to use it at all, even if it’s only once.

Bacterial contamination

Because plastic bottles can retain hazardous bacteria, most manufacturers recommend that you only use them once. In reality, bacterial development in water bottles is a far more serious issue than chemical leaching. ‌

Bacterial growth can occur fast when you contact your tongue to your bottle on a regular basis. Even unfinished beverages left at room temperature can generate alarming amounts of germs over the course of the day. 

Because bacteria spread so fast, it’s important to reuse plastic water bottles sparingly and properly.

Furthermore, repeated usage of the bottle can cause fractures and scratches in the surface, allowing germs to thrive. With that in mind, you might choose to forego the plastic bottle in favour of a reusable bottle.

Leaching of chemicals due to physical processes

If a plastic bottle shows even minor symptoms of wear and tear, such as cracks or dents, it should not be reused. These make it easier for toxins to seep out of them.

Remember that tears might be small and difficult to detect. One of the reasons why single-use plastic bottles should not be reused is because of this. 

Allowing plastic bottles to become heated is not a good idea. This also makes it easier for pollutants to drain out.

Throw away a plastic bottle if you’re using it in hot weather, a hot yoga class, or other humid or steamy environments. Plastic bottles should not be exposed to direct sunlight.

Alternatives to Plastic Bottles

If you must reuse a plastic water bottle, make sure it is well cleaned beforehand. It might be difficult to clean most plastic water bottles since they are not easy to clean. It’s advisable not to miss this step if you have to reuse one.

Whether you wish to reuse plastic water bottles for convenience or to aid the environment, a reusable stainless-steel or glass bottle may be a superior option.

You don’t have to worry about bacterial overgrowth or chemicals seeping into your water because they’re simple to clean after each usage. Furthermore, they are far better for the environment.

Best practises when dealing with plastic bottles

According to Healthline, the following practises help not only you and the people around you, but the environment as well:

  • Plastics should always be recycled.
  • Before recycling, take the time to rinse off the bottles.
  • To find out if bottle tops should be left on or removed, contact your local recycling facility.
  • Make it a family tradition to recycle. Encourage people to recycle 100 percent of the time at school, work, and at home by enrolling your family.
  • When at all possible, avoid using plastic bottles. Choose materials that are recycled or recyclable, such as glass, porcelain, or stainless steel.
  • Pick up and recycle plastic bottles and other forms of litter when you encounter it on the street, beach, or other site to set an example for your community.

Conclusion

It seems probable that reusing plastic water bottles is safe.

Chemical leaching and microplastics are detected at extremely low levels in bottles and are unlikely to cause severe health risks unless they are frequently subjected to very high temperatures, according to studies.

Contamination is the most likely concern, so if you do reuse a water bottle, make sure you wash it periodically.

Furthermore, plastic bottles made from #7 plastics should be avoided from reusing since they contain chemicals which are toxic for human health.

FAQs

Are reused water bottles loaded with bacteria?

Yes, bacteria levels in various plastic water bottles were found to be greater than the EPA’s permitted limit. However, in most situations, the bacteria that develops as a result of recycling water bottles would not harm you.

Does water mold in a Water Bottle?

Yes. Mold is a naturally occurring (and usually harmless) microorganism that thrives in wet, damp environments.

When you think about it, your water bottle is precisely that: a humid, moist chamber with minimal air flow. This indicates that it is a great environment for mould to thrive.

There are over 100,000 different forms of mould, many of which are quite innocuous, but the one that may emerge in your water bottle is hazardous. 

It is commonly referred to as Black Mold, although its scientific name is Stachybotrys chartarum. You must act quickly if black mould forms on your water bottle or anything else you come into contact with.

Is mold in a water bottle harmful?

Yes. This is the primary reason why you must act quickly. You can become sick by drinking from a mouldy water bottle since you are swallowing mould. 

Mold may cause a variety of issues, including respiratory issues, nausea, cramps, diarrhoea, and diseases that aren’t explained.

What is the white stuff floating in my water bottle?

Rapid temperature fluctuations, such as those seen during the winter months when water freezes, can cause calcium crystals to separate from the water, link together and precipitate, or solidify. 

When the water thaws, the calcium remains solid and may be seen floating in the water as white bits or flakes.

How long can you keep refilling a water bottle?

Plastic bottles are designed to be used once and then discarded. They can be reused in a conservative manner if they haven’t been subjected to any wear and tear.

References

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