The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bottle

Every plastic product that you use has been on quite a journey before it gets to you. Provided you toss it in the recycling rather than the rubbish bin, it may have quite a life ahead of it as well. Let's take a look at the life-cycle of a plastic PET bottle and see where it has come from and what it may end up as.

From the Sea

Plastic is made from oil, but where does oil come from? Oil is formed over millions of years by the gradual conversion of organic material - dead plants and animals. This layer of dead organisms at the bottom of the ocean gets covered by shale and sand. The resulting pressure, combined with the decay caused by microorganisms, turns the organic material into oil and natural gas. The shifting continents mean that some of this oil is no longer under deep oceans and we can extract it easily.

From Oil Well to Refinery

At oil wells, modern drilling technology reaches the layer of buried oil and pump out millions of gallons. The oil is shipped to a refinery where it is 'cleaned'. The cleaning process removes impurities and makes the oil suitable for conversion into plastic. The next step is to isolate a substance called naphtha. Naphtha can be polymerised to form plastic pellets that can then be melted and moulded.

From Refinery to Factory

Plastic bottle bein made along a production line

The plastic pellets can be melted and moulded into any shape. Here's where we come in. To make a bottle, we first produce a parison - a tube of molten plastic closed at one end. The parison is fed into the hollow of a bottle-shaped mould. Air is injected into the open end and the parison expands to fill the mould. When the plastic has cooled, we have a plastic bottle. We can also make the bottle caps.

From Factory to Consumer

The bottle is filled with whatever product our customer wishes to sell and then transported to the shops where you, the consumer, will buy it. When you have finished using the product, you are left with the bottle. How you dispose of it determines the next step in its life cycle.

To Landfill or Recycling Centre

A plastic bottle being crushed with a recycling logo around it

If you throw the bottle in your general waste bin it will wind up in landfill. However, if you recycle your plastic bottle, it may go on to have a second life as another bottle or a carpet or even the fleece lining for a coat. Oil is a limited resource, so the future of plastic depends on us using it over and over again - and finding more effective ways to create and recycle it.

At Coda Plastics Limited, we pride ourselves on our sustainable approach to plastic recycling. We recycle our own plastic waste and we also receive waste from other companies and use it in the manufacture of new plastic products. If you want to use a plastics company that has an environmentally considerate approach, make us your first point of call. Drop us an email to or call +44 1692 501020.

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