So you have enjoyed an ice cold drink and you then drop your bottle in a Recycle Zone unit at a theme park, an airport or a shopping centre - what happens next?
Your plastic bottle is squashed into a dry bale and sent to a reprocessor, for example the Closed Loop Recycling Plant at Dagenham.
Your bottle is spun to shake off dirt, and a magnet removes any metal.
Your bottle is then sorted by its type or colour. This can be optical sorting, where a beam of light detects if the bottle is HDPE or PET or other. It can also be manually sorted.
Your bottle is then ground into flakes and these flakes are then sorted to remove coloured flakes and other contaminants.
The PET flakes are decontaminated by removing the surface layer using a solution of caustic soda. The HDPE flakes are melted, sleved, and turned into pellets. The flakes or pellets can then be made back into a new bottle for you to drink from and recycle again!
Did you know that your plastic bottle may not just become a bottle again? It could also become a plastic bag, garden furniture, seed trays, fleece, and fibre filling for sleeping bags and duvets, depending on how the bottle is recycled.