Should plastic bottles be crushed or compressed for recycling?

Sorting trash has become a habit for many of us, and that’s great news! You still have to sort your trash properly! Unfortunately there are no rules for compaction … and especially for plastic bottles. How do I sort them should they be left intact?

With or without a cap? Compressed or flattened in height? While the La Voix du Nord site indicated in 2012 that plastic bottles shouldn’t be compressed above all else, the Ma Commune site showed exactly the opposite a few years later. Because sorting centers don’t all work in the same way. It is therefore quite difficult to answer these questions. However, if you want to save space in your yellow trash can, here’s what to do.

The rule of sorting centers is not universal, hence the difficulty in making the correct gesture! However, sorting centers recommend that the bottle be crushed vertically and naturally with the cap instead. With regard to corks, we will soon no longer have to ask ourselves this question, as a directive from Brussels provides that bottles and corks are inextricably linked by 2024 (like the current Cristalline bottles). On the other hand, flattening them is not advisable for the simple reason that the sorter at the waste center sees them as cardboard boxes.

And when it comes to sorting, cardboard boxes don’t go the same way as plastic bottles! So it is better to crush them by hand or with a bottle compressor. The idea is to save space in your trash.

Instead, the sorting centers recommend crushing the bottle vertically. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Mykolastock

However, there is one rule that all sorting centers agree on! You should never nest your recyclable waste … Forget the bottle in a tin can or the plastic bowls in cereal boxes! Sorting machines cannot recognize these stacks and are therefore not sorted correctly.

You can therefore flatten the cardboard boxes, compress the plastic bottles. This does not affect the sorting action when your waste arrives. If in doubt, please contact your sorting center as not all plastic bottles use trays or yoghurt pots … In sorting centers, universality is not yet the order of the day, and that’s a bit of a shame!