Compelling Reasons You Shouldn't Reuse Plastic Bottles

Depending on the material used to make the bottle, it can be harmful to your health to use it beyond the expiration date printed on it.
Compelling Reasons You Shouldn't Reuse Plastic Bottles

Written by Lorena González

Last update: 26 May, 2022

If you like to reuse plastic bottles for recycling, this article will provide useful information you need to know first.

On one hand, it’s very important to get in the habit of recycling, in order to protect the environment. On the other hand, one thing you definitely shouldn’t do is reuse plastic bottles, something that many of us surely have been doing for a long time.

If you want to know why you shouldn’t do it, we invite you to keep reading.

First of all, you should keep in mind the data from various studies done by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences about plastic bottles. A sample showed that a third of the brands contained bacterial or carcinogenic chemical contaminants. So much so that the levels of carcinogens found exceeded industry standards.

Plastic bottles may leach dangerous chemicals

be careful if you want to reuse plastic bottles

Plastic bottles aren’t as harmless as you may think since they might leach dangerous chemicals depending on the material it’s made of. Therefore, it’s essential to pay attention to the special symbols found on the bottom of the bottles.

One of them is a triangle with a number in it according to the kind of plastic used to make it.

  • Bottles marked with a “1” (PET) are safe only when used once.

If you expose them to heat or the sun, they can leach toxic substances into the water.

  • Be careful if you see them marked with a “3” or “7,” or in other words (PVC or PC), because these kinds of plastic leach toxic substances that can find their way into the food and water.

These bottles can end up causing dangerous illnesses.

  • Bottles that are good for reusing are those made of polyethylene and marked with a “2” or “4,”. Likewise, those made from polypropylene and marked with a “5” and the letters PP.

These bottles are relatively safe if used to store cold water and if properly disinfected.

You may also be interested in reading this article:

Is It Safe to Drink Water from Plastic Bottles?

Watch out for bacteria

Another aspect to keep in mind when it comes to plastic bottles is the bacteria they may harbor.

The level of bacteria in these bottles often exceeds safe amounts for your body.

We are the ones that actually create the perfect conditions for the growth of microbes when we take a bottle with dirty hands and then fill it with room-temperature water.

And it’s not even enough to wash the bottle. Even this process should be done properly but almost always isn’t.

After washing the bottle you can make yourself sick or even get hepatitis A.

We can’t stress enough the number of bacteria found in the bottles, and it’s just not always possible to wash them well.

The caps are full of microbes that then enter your mouth. A good way to try to protect yourself is by using a straw.

Careful how you store bottles

Don’t store bottles in too high of temperatures.

High temperatures can cause the plastic to leach chemicals that may be harmful to your body.

Likewise, it may also be dangerous to store water in the garage, exposed to exhaust, pesticides, and other chemicals that can affect the taste and smell of the water.

They may produce antimony

Antimony is a toxic material frequently used in making water bottles. So, the longer you keep a water bottle, the more antimony it may produce.

Antimony can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This makes it important to drink the water as soon as you buy it and not store it for too long.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • “Qué significan los símbolos de reciclaje en los embases de plástico”, artículo en web ue2002
  • Comisión Europea, Comunicado de Prensa, “Plásticos de un solo uso: nuevas normas de la UE para reducir la basura marina”, 28 de mayo de 2018
  • “Envases de plástico” en web consumadrid
    • Jennifer A Honeycutt et al. “Effects of Water Bottle Materials and Filtration on Bisphenol A Content in Laboratory Animal Drinking Water”, J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2017 May; 56(3): 269–272.
    • Westerhoff P et al. “Antimony leaching from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic used for bottled drinking water”, Water Res. 2008 Feb;42(3):551-6. Epub 2007 Aug 6.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.