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Should You Leave the Cap on the Bottle When Recycling?


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The Pesky Bottle Cap: Can It Be Recycled?

Like any industry, recycling evolves each day, and new solutions mean hard-and-fast rules are becoming dated or even extinct. That’s why it’s so important to check your local Material Recover Facility (MRF) or city recycling guidelines regularly.

To Cap or Not to Cap

Recently I discovered that plastic caps should be attached to their bottles before recycling. This practice is contrary to original recycling guidelines, as plastic caps used to be separated from their bottles before the blue bin. But according to the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), caps tossed loosely into recycling can be lost in the sorting process and end up in landfills. Alternatively, if caps are secured to their bottles, they end up making it through the sorting and baling process, becoming renewed materials.

What Changed?

Originally the bottles—made from high-density PET—and the caps—made from polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP)—were separated because of their different makeup. Now, new technology allows bottles and caps to be processed together, ground into flakes and then sorted out in a “float/sink” tank where higher density plastic from bottles will sink and lower density plastic from caps will float, dividing the two types of plastic for proper baling.

The Big Win

This new technology takes one simple step out of recycling at home, making it simpler and easier for everyone to participate!

comment_2We want to hear from you! Watch the Recycling Journey of a Plastic Cap and let us know what you think about the process in the comments below.

Resources:

When recycling a water bottle, should you leave the cap on?

View Results
 
Yes:
 
94%
No:
 
6%
Total Votes:
352
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16 Comments
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Kasey Uhler
Kasey Uhler
1 year ago

This makes life easier! One less step

Kim Metzger
Kim Metzger
1 year ago

I don’t have curbside recycling where I live. I must separate my own recyclables. My local facility does not have the latest technology. They’ve asked that lids be removed. The crushing process causes the sealed bottles to explode in the machine. This impaires the hearing of the operators. Check with your local facility annually.

Merlene
Merlene
1 year ago

Thx. Good info. I’ve heard both so now I’ll leave the caps on.
Good information

Merlene
Merlene
1 year ago

Good information.

Sheila
Sheila
1 year ago

My local council says to take the lids off plastic or glass bottles as the are excluded from the recycling process.

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
1 year ago
Reply to  Sheila

Shelia, thank you! Yes, it’s always best to first check with your local recycling facility to see what works best for your area.

Donna
Donna
1 year ago

I liked when the lids were required to be off the bottles, so the bottles can dry out, then step on to crush to help with volume of recyclables. Could still do all that if you keep the caps and the put them on later, but not many people would take this extra step.

Tanya BautistaOrdones
Tanya BautistaOrdones
1 year ago

I agree with others about checking with local facilities. If you can not feasibly recycle your caps, check into Terracycle! They have some awesome recycling programs.

Kristen
Kristen
1 year ago

We just received notice that due to changes in what can be recycled, all lids, in our WA area, are no longer being recycled.

Miranda Waddill
Miranda Waddill
1 year ago

Glad to see this, I was doing it old school.

Tanda Nugteren
Tanda Nugteren
1 year ago

I’m so glad I read this blog. I have been separating caps for awhile and so thankful to know that by leaving them on they are recycled. Thank you for your continuing education! I’m never too old to learn!

Arlette Makcen
Arlette Makcen
1 year ago

Good information!! I received a recycling paper from my area and it actually said to make sure you attach the cap… now i know why it is important and will definitely be more conscientious about making sure the cap is attached.

DEBORA CHOATE
DEBORA CHOATE
1 year ago

I have heard that Firefighters prefer that the lids must be removed as the heat causes the bottles to expand and explode with the sound of a gunshot. They can not go into that kind of dangerous situation.

Deanna Hofmeister
Deanna Hofmeister
11 months ago

One less step!

Laurie Koller
Laurie Koller
3 months ago

thanks! I needed this info!

Sonia Levesque
Sonia Levesque
20 days ago

Good information.