We all know that single-use plastics are currently losing favour with consumers due to the impact they have on the environment when disposed of. So why not reuse your plastic bottles? Just wash them and refill right? Many of us will reuse our single-use plastic bottles as we deem it to be more environmentally considerate than just throwing them away straight after use. After all, they are ideal to fill up and take to the gym or out on a long walk to keep hydrated. But is it safe to reuse plastic water bottles? There is evidence to suggest that reusing plastic bottles is not as risk-free as it seems.
Risk 1. Bacterial Growth
You’d think that if you are constantly filling your bottle with water then the bottle will always be clean, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. A plastic bottle is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, as they thrive in warm, moist environments. If there’s a crack in the plastic bottle, then this also provides a space for bacteria to grow. It is likely that you won’t even notice this for a while, as it would tend to build up in areas of the bottle that are difficult to wipe down, such as the bottle neck.
Even thicker, sturdy plastic water bottles that are sold as being reusable are prone to this. However, these types of bottles are designed for long use and can be thoroughly washed in the dishwasher on a regular basis to keep them hygienic. If you are using a single-use plastic bottle, made from PET or HDPE, then make sure to wash it with hot, soapy water before each use.
Risk 2. Chemical Seepage
You may have heard of BPA (Bisphenol A), which is an industrial chemical that is used to make epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics, which include PET plastic water bottles. Research has shown that small levels of BPA can seep from plastic packaging into the food or drink that it is containing. At these levels, ingesting BPA has not proven to be harmful, as it is rapidly absorbed and excreted from our bodies before any ill health effects arise. Some people do however have concerns about BPA leaking from plastic and believe that it can cause problems for our health. There is a possible link between ingesting BPA and an increased risk of high blood pressure. In response to these fears, many manufacturers are now producing ‘BPA-free’ plastics as a precaution against this. Look out for these on the shelves, as it will be clearly marked on the packaging. If in doubt, look at the recycling codes that are moulded into every piece of plastic packaging. If it has a recycling code of 3 or 7, the packaging is likely to contain BPA.
So Is It Safe To Reuse Plastic Water Bottles?
In short, yes it is. Despite the small risks of bacteria and BPA, reusing your plastic water bottles is safe. You just need to make sure that you wash and fully dry your bottles after use in order to prevent any nasty bacteria build-ups. This is especially important if you are filling these bottles with sugary drinks such as squash or sports drinks.
What Should You Do With Your Empty Plastic Bottles?
We’ve established that it is perfectly safe to reuse your plastic water bottles for short time after the initial use, if you wash them regularly. But what should you do when you’re finished with them? Recycle them of course! It is so important that every single plastic bottle that can be recycled is recycled. You can find out more about the correct ways to recycle your used bottles and jars right here, including how to identify which plastics are actually recyclable by looking at their recycling codes.
Here at The Bottle People, we have a wide range of glass and plastic bottles available in handy pack sizes that are ideal for packaging waters and juices. Why not take a look at our full range?