The question you have asked is a complex one.
Recycling used products into similar ones is called "closed-loop
recycling." As you thought, when you recycle a plastic bottle, it
generally does not become another plastic bottle. Instead, it turns
into material for plastic bags, so-called plastic lumber and fiber for
polyester products. So the products are not going directly into a
landfill, but the production of new plastic bottles does not decrease.
The International Plastics Task Force, an environmental group,
recommends that consumers reduce and reuse plastics as much as
According to the American Plastics Council:
"Today, some recycled plastics are used in food and beverage
containers. Technical and economic barriers currently limit widespread
use of recycled plastic packaging in direct contact with food."
By comparison, most of the material in aluminum beverage cans is
recycled content. So the environmentally friendly choice should be
aluminum over plastic, assuming of course you recycle the can.
I hope this answer meets your needs. If not, please request clarification
IPTF, "Recycled Content," 2002,
Dave Aftandilian, "Coke's Broken Promise," Feb. 2000,
APC, "Plastic Recycling and Recovery,"
City of Clearwater, "Remarkable Recycling Facts," 26 Mar. 2004,
plastics recycling closed-loop