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Are Bottle Caps Recyclable? How Do You Properly Dispose of Them?

Plastice bottle caps

The modern age is starting to focus on sustainable living and averting a climate crisis by adopting more environmentally-friendly practices. Recycling has always stayed on top of the list of ways to reduce pollution and protect mother earth. However, only a handful of items qualify as recyclable. Are bottle caps among them?

The short answer is yes. Most bottle caps are recyclable and can be disposed of in common recycling bins alongside other plastic items. However, there are a few important things to keep in mind when disposing of bottle caps. Keep reading to find out.

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The Type of Bottle Cap

Plastic Bottles with Blue Plastic Caps
Image Credit: Jan van der Wolf, Pexels

There are two types of bottle caps: metal and plastic bottle caps. Both materials are recyclable, so all you have to do is throw them in the recycling bin, right? Wrong!

You see, most recycling facilities have an automatic processing center that separates plastic from metal either by machine or by hand. However, since bottle caps are so small, doing so is impossible by machine and impractical by hand. While the screening machine can separate glass, metal, and plastic, bottle caps are too small for it to pick out. The small caps fall through the screener and end up back in the landfill.

How to Recycle Plastic Bottle Caps

Because bottle caps are made of plastic, they can be disposed of in the same recycling bin as other plastic items like water bottles and food containers. However, it is important to note that bottle caps should only be recycled if they are still attached to their bottle.

If you want to recycle bottle caps on their own, there’s a specific method you need to follow. You’ll need to

  • Remove the bottle cap from the bottle
  • Find a recycling center that accepts bottle caps
  • Deposit your bottle caps in the bins of the recycling center

If you can’t find a recycling center that accepts plastic bottle caps, you could always go to the Preserve Gimme 5 way. This program lets you mail all five types of plastic for recycling. It’s a simple and convenient way to recycle plastic bottle caps.

How to Recycle Metal Bottle Caps

While bottle caps can be recycled, metal bottle caps are a bit more tricky. Most recycling centers do not accept bottle caps, as they are considered “scrap” materials. However, there may be some recycling facilities in your area that do accept bottle caps for recycling.

To recycle metal bottle caps, follow the below steps:

  • Search for bottle cap recycling centers in your area
  • Call or visit the recycling center to inquire about their bottle cap recycling process
  • Gather your bottle caps and bring them to the bottle cap recycler
  • Deposit your bottle caps in the designated bin and wait for them to be processed

It’s important to note that bottle cap recycling is still a relatively new and under-researched field, so there may not be many bottle cap recyclers in your area. However, with the increasing demand for sustainable resources and environmentally-friendly practices, it’s likely that bottle cap recycling will become more commonplace in the years to come.

Metal Bottle Caps
Image Credit: Manfred Richter, Pixabay

Why Should You Recycle Bottle Caps?

You may be wondering why you should bother to recycle bottle caps when you could toss them in with the rest of the trash. Well, here are a couple of reasons why recycling bottle caps is the best course of action.

It Reduces Air and Water Pollution

When bottle caps are thrown away with regular trash, they end up in landfills, where they can release harmful chemicals into the air and water. These chemicals can harm the environment and pose a risk to animal and plant health. Moreso, if the bottle caps are dumped in oceans where many sea creatures live.

It Reduces Waste Accumulation in Landfills

Person Hands on Assorted-color Plastic Lid bottle caps
Image Credit: Krizjohn Rosales, Pexels

Recycling bottle caps is also an important step in reducing waste accumulation in landfills. Because bottle caps are made of plastic and metal, they can take hundreds of years to decompose. By recycling bottle caps, we can greatly reduce the amount of trash that ends up in our landfills.

It Saves Energy and Resources

Recycling bottle caps can save a significant amount of energy and resources. That’s because bottle caps are manufactured using fossil fuels, which are non-renewable resources that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. By taking the time to recycle bottle caps, we can reduce our dependence on these harmful resources and decrease our impact on the environment.

It Reduces Need to Harvest Raw Materials

Recycling bottle caps can help reduce the need to harvest raw materials like oil and metals. This is particularly important nowadays, as many of our natural resources are being depleted at a rapid rate. By recycling bottle caps and other plastic items instead of throwing them away, we can reduce the need for new raw material extraction and give future generations a better chance at sustaining life.

It Saves Money

Recycling isn’t just the right thing to do for the planet—it can also save money. By reducing landfills and ocean pollution, you will likely help minimize any future costs associated with these impacts.

It Creates Job Opportunities

Recycling bottle caps can also help create job opportunities in your area. As bottle cap recycling becomes more commonplace, more people will be needed to perform the necessary recycling tasks like collecting bottle caps and transporting them to the recycler. So if you’re looking for a way to boost the local economy and protect our planet at the same time, then bottle cap recycling might just be the perfect solution.

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Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it’s clear that bottle cap recycling is an important practice that we all need to get behind. Not only does it help reduce pollution, waste accumulation, and resource depletion, but it can also create job opportunities and save companies money in the long run. So if you have bottle caps lying around your house or workplace, be sure to recycle them every chance you get. Your planet will thank you for it!


Featured Image Credit: Sadegh Shafiee, Pixabay

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