Learn how you can recycle old reusable plastic and metal water bottles without stress

It’s 2020. Sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint are at the forefront of our minds in our daily lives. As a result, sustainable versions of items have become huge. For example, for the past few years, the popularity of reusable water bottles has sky rocketed.

Research suggests that buying a reusable water bottle rather than a single use plastic bottle could stop over 1,000 plastic bottles littering the ocean (over the course of 3 years). Plus, reusable water bottles can last a long time. We take them everywhere – to work, school, university, the gym, the list is endless.

However, this comes at a cost. Due to their portable nature, they are very easily lost!

Did you know that reusable water bottles are the number one most commonly lost items in the UK?

Research conducted by YouthSight with NotLost reveals that reusable water bottles are the number one most lost item on university campuses. Water bottles account for 18% of the total items found on campus every year. Furthermore, data suggests that of these water bottles, a whopping 98% are never enquired about. That means a lot of water bottles are sitting, unclaimed, at lost property offices.

Therefore, eventually they need to be disposed of. But how do we do that sustainably? It feels completely wrong to send what is a supposedly eco-friendly product to landfill… So, what do you do with old water bottles when their lives are over?

Don’t fear, all is NotLost! NotLost are here to explain how to get rid of a reusable water bottle, the easy way. 

How do you recycle a reusable water bottle?

Let’s explore how to recycle a reusable water bottle. Firstly, you need to find out what it is made of.

What are reusable water bottles made of?

The most popular materials used to make reusable water bottles are:

1. Metal
2. Plastic (but not the single-use kind)
Reusable plastic bottle notlost

If you’re not sure what material your reusable water bottle is made of, give it a google or check the company website! Or, investigate yourself…

Plastic – If it is a type of plastic it will have a number in a recycling triangle on the base or side.

Metal – If you’re not sure if your metal water bottle is stainless steel or aluminium, grab a magnet off your fridge. If your metal water bottle attracts the magnet, it’s probably stainless steel. If it’s not magnetic, it’s probably aluminium.

Metal water bottles

Reusable metal water bottles are most commonly made of stainless steel. Some brands that make stainless steel water bottles are: Jerry, S’well, Yeti, Mira and, of course, Chilly’s!

metal reusable water bottle recycling how to by notlost

How to recycle a metal water bottle

Stainless steel water bottles are recyclable! However, not curb side. This mean you should not put your bottle into the recycling bin at home.

So, where can you recycle a stainless steel water bottle?
Your local Reuse and Recycling centre is the place to go! Skip to here to find out where your closest centre is.

Plastic water bottles

These are not made from single-use plastic. Instead, they are made from significantly more durable types of plastic.  These reusable plastic water bottles are commonly used as promotional items for companies, popular with those doing sports. As a nation, we collect a lot of these… So when their life is over, what do you do with an old plastic bottle?

plastic reusable water bottle tumblers disposal recycling how to by notlost

How to recycle a reusable plastic water bottle

Firstly, we need to understand what these bottles are made of. Reusable plastic bottles can be made from a variety of different materials, such as:

1) high-density polyethylene (HDPE) 

2) low-density polyethylene (LDPE) 

3) copolyster (may be seen as PET)

4) polypropylene

Copolyster and polypropylene are more rigid and hard plastics. HDPE has some flexibility whereas LDPE is the most flexible and squeezable. The latter is the most likely contender for your reusable plastic bottle. 

How do I know what type of plastic my reusable water bottle is made of?

Look at the base or the side of the bottle. It will have some letters or a numbers in a recycling triangle in it. This number indicates it is a certain type of plastic. For example, PET is number 1, HDPE is number 2 and LDPE is number 4.

The full breakdown of the numbers and what they mean is below. Source: Earth Easy

How to recycle different types of plastic reusable water bottle

It’s all well and good knowing what your bottle is made of. What we need to know is where it can be recycled.

This simple process should help you determine how to recycle the item:

1) Go to the gov.uk website and fill in your postcode 

2) This should give you a link to your local authority/council/borough website. Go to website.

3) Search the webpage for a section/page dedicated to how different items are recycled

There may be a ‘Recycling A-Z’ – give this a quick scan. Although this list helpfully covers common items, on the other hand, it misses out items such as reusable water bottles.

4) Locate your nearest ‘Reuse and Recycling Centre’ – otherwise known as ‘the dump’ or ‘the tip’

This will be managed by your local council and should have a clear list of items it will take and which it will not. However, it is likely to take your reusable water bottle! Give them a call if you aren’t sure.

5) Take your reusable water bottle down to your local Reuse and Recycling Centre. Dispose of it at the relevant area!


This blog should have given you further understanding about what different reusable water bottles are made of and how you can responsibly dispose of them yourself! It may not be the quickest task, however, it is a very important one. Ensure you run a sustainable business by disposing of your lost property appropriately. 

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