General Question

lefteh's avatar

Can you recycle the caps of plastic bottles?

Asked by lefteh (9409points) July 1st, 2008

My entire life, I have been conditioned to throw away the opaque, white screw-on cap of plastic water bottles and recycle the bottle itself. However, recently, my friends have started telling me that I can just recycle the whole thing. What’s the story?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

28 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You need to call your city recycling program. I know they cannot be here in Orlando.

breedmitch's avatar

I’ve no source, but I’ve been told they won’t recycle bottles with the lids still on.

beast's avatar

In Pennsylvania, we are not allowed. My family has a recycling truck come and collect our weekly recycling, and they won’t accept bottle caps.

Try this for some cool ideas.

lefteh's avatar

Thanks for the responses. I put in a call to the company that the city of Columbus contracts to handle recycling and left a message. I’ll see what they say.
It seems that my habit is probably correct, though.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

oh! your in columbus too! now I dont have to call so long as you post what they say, cuz I dont know the answer either

emilyrose's avatar

in SF they are not recyclable…. probably not anywhere would be my guess

Seesul's avatar

I don’t know for sure, but I do know someone to ask. I think it depends on what types of plastics your city recycles. At first our town only took 1 and 2, but upped it to 1–6 after that. I do know that the cap is a different type of plastic than the bottle itself, which is why you have to separate them. If you look inside some plastic caps, they are also duel layer, and that may well be the reason that you can’t recycle them at this point, since they are fused together. The single layer ones aren’t marked, so there is no way to tell by just looking at them, but some of them seem like they’d go in the mix, at least here. We have a bin for mixed paper, another for yard waste (which includes soiled pizza boxes) and yet another for all the other mixed stuff, milk cartons (both types, cans, most glass and accepted plastics. Cans have to have labels removed because of the way that they are processed.

Thanks for asking this, lefteh, I was wondering the same thing. I’ll call and find out the local answer and then ask the friend that I know who is in the business and see if I can find anything else.

lefteh's avatar

Interesting. Our contractor only accepts plastics 1–2 for curbside pickup, but it can go in the same container as paper and cardboard. Only yard waste is separated. However, there are also big green dumpsters scattered throughout the city where you can recycle any plastic 1–7, in addition to glass.

Seesul's avatar

Yeah, I can’t remember when they added the others, but it has been a while now. Our trash and yard clippings are picked up once a week, the other recyclables are picked up every other week. My entire household trash now doesn’t even fill one can/bag.We have California redemption value here and a local center that gives cash for it. It is illegal to throw away batteries in CA, so we just tape in them in a bag to the recycle can and they pick them up. Oil is also picked up, but most use facilities now for that. Fluorescent bulbs can’t be trashed either because of the mercury content, but our local Ace Hardware takes them out back. Easy, because you just replace it at the same time in one stop. Toxics go to a center that is a short drive away, but open on a limited basis. They are sorted and you can go there and pick up usable ones for free. Computers, other electronics, and large cardboard can be left for free at the same place we take the CA Redemption Value stuff. Our garbage company also provides a few free passes a year to the dump, but we’ve never had to use them. Pretty well organized.

lefteh's avatar

Wow.
Most people here just throw everything into a big trash bag and send it off to the landfill. Batteries and fluorescents included.
Those of us who don’t want to waste everything have to pay an extra monthly fee for a recycling company to come to our house weekly, and like I said they just pick up 1 and 2 plastics, paper, and glass. It’s not the best system in the world.

Seesul's avatar

Have you seen Wall-E (circle thingy around E) yet? Better watch out Columbus!!!
But then again, you do have the Harley Museum what more could one ask for?

The coldest weather I have EVER been in, was January in Columbus. Nice city, and surroundings, though, not what I expected. Nice people, too.

lefteh's avatar

It was awful cold in March during our blizzard as well. That is the campus of The Ohio State University on the busiest road in the city.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

lefteh, that link doesn’t work, but I remember that blizzard. Had a wonderful time walking to class… OSU has a decent recycling program too, most of the dorms have seperate recycling bins in each room and in the trash rooms. Off campus, its fairly difficult to recycle the things that can be. We should have what Seesul has, thats awesome.

playthebanjo's avatar

you should leave the cap on. When the buyer gets the bottles, they shred them. The cap plastic floats and they skim it off and recycle it

Seesul's avatar

@play: in CA. You are required to remove them or the center will not give you a refund. The refund is based on weight.

playthebanjo's avatar

that’s too bad. Good thing the question asked whether or not you could recycle them. They are totally recyclable. We don’t have refunds in Georgia.

lefteh's avatar

I just heard back from Rumpke, the recycling company that handles our curbside pickup, and they told me that I should absolutely not under any circumstances put a bottle cap in the recycling, and that it could ruin an entire batch of plastic.

Seesul's avatar

Hmm. You can’t put it in your pick up recycling, which you said before was 1 and 2. I wonder if you could put it in those other bins around town that you were talking about that accept 3–7? I know the CRV center doesn’t take caps because they only take PETE, which is 1. 1 and 2 must either mix or be easy to separate.

playthebanjo's avatar

If they told you that it could ruin an entire batch of plastic they did not know what they were talking about. When plastic arrives at the local mrf, it gets separated into type – generally PETE or LDPE. The only reason that caps used to not be “recyclable” is because they would pop off in poorly designed older balers. New balers (since 1990 or so) do not have any issues with this. They now provide force enough to bust the bottle whether there is a cap on it or not.

Once the mrf sells the bale to an end market, the bottle is shredded and the caps will float. They are a different formula of plastic, but they are recycled as well. If you want some proof of this, go to rumpke’s website and look at the pictures closely…the plastic bottles still have the caps on them.

Or, call your local coke representative…they will tell you as well.

lefteh's avatar

This page on Rumpke’s website states:

“Do I need to remove lids from my recyclables?

Yes, please remove all lids. The lids are not made from the same material as the recyclable container, therefore they are considered contaminates to the recycling stream.”

emilyrose's avatar

@playthebanjo—do you work in recycling? You seem to know all the nerdy details of things I thought only I had heard of? MRF etc : ) I used to work for recycling in SF. Here, they still say to remove the lid….

playthebanjo's avatar

@emilyrose – I am the recycling coordinator for the University of Georgia. My last job was at the local MRF. Being in Georgia, we work closely with Coke who are actively using all parts of the plastic bottle to make into new plastic bottles (not just carpet and fabrics). @lefteh, that quote does not say anything about plastic…maybe it’s talking about the metal lids from pickle jars? we all know that metal is not recyclable.~ It’s funny, when you click the link that describes the plastics that they take from the same page as your link, it doesn’t say anything about taking the lids off – in fact, look at the picture right next to the description…you can see plastic bottles still have the lids on. here is an interesting interview with Scott Vitters from Coke talking about the 100% recyclability of their bottles. I will consent that the same things are not available everywhere for recycling, but to say that the caps are a contaminant is a gross overstatement by your folks at rumpke.

lefteh's avatar

Hmm…very interesting. I’ve been thinking for a while about canceling my Rumpke curbside pickup anyway, and just using the free recycling dumpsters around the city that accept 1–7, so I’m sure I’d be able to toss bottle caps in there regardless.
Thanks for your expertise, playthebanjo.

breedmitch's avatar

Banjo: Could we say perhaps, that it couldn’t hurt the recycling process (even make it easier if skimming is necessary) to remove the plastic tops before recycling?

playthebanjo's avatar

probably not since most places that bale your recyclables are not the same ones that actually make something new from it. think of your local mrf as a middle man…baling up like items to be sold to other companies that make new things from them. if the caps were off, there would be no way for the mrf to keep them all together.

emilyrose's avatar

OH banjo, now i remember you, you are going to get chicobags! Anyone who talks about mrfs and balers is a recycle nerd like me : )

mldebock's avatar

I just got a response from Aveda. They accept plastic caps from all types of bottles at their stores. Aveda is a cool company. Their prices are a bit high, but I think the products are worth it.

You can also send them to:
ACA Waste Services
40 Eads Street
West Babylon, NY 11704

lefteh's avatar

Thanks for the info, mldebock. I’ll look into them.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther