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.


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

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