Benefits of recycling plastic bottles include reduced waste in landfills, conservation of natural resources and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Other benefits are energy conservation and decreased pollution.
The American Chemistry Council estimates that consumers throw away about 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour, which creates a lot of waste in landfills. Recycling 1 ton of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space. Recycling also reduces litter near roads and in bodies of water. Recycling plastic bottles helps to conserve oil, which is available in limited supply. Recycling 1 ton of plastic conserves about 3.8 barrels of oil.
Recycling plastic uses up to two-thirds less energy than manufacturing it from raw materials. Recycling 1 pound of water bottles conserves about 12,000 British thermal units of heat energy. Energy conservation reduces the strain on power plants, in turn reduceing fossil fuel consumption. Reducing fossil fuel consumption reduces carbon emissions, thereby reducing the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average family can reduce carbon emissions by up to 340 pounds per year by recycling plastic.
Recycling plastic bottles also helps reduce air pollution from landfill facilities that incinerate plastic bottles to save space. When plastic bottles break down in landfills, toxic chemicals can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater.