Caps On or Off for Plastic Bottle Recycling?

Even when you try to avoid plastic bottles, most of us end up dealing with them sometimes. If you’re lucky and live in an area with easy recycling, you can toss them into the recycle bin. If you’re really lucky, they take all types of plastic, not just #1 and #2.

There’s one step that confuses a lot of people. It’s whether or not to remove the lid from their plastic containers before recycling. It’s a different type of plastic. Can the lids be recycled too?

That depends on where you live. The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers says it is more often okay to leave the lids on now, but to check with your local recycler to be certain. Used to be they didn’t want the lids at all, and would toss any bottles with lids rather than take the time to remove the lid. The lids would jam their machinery. Now many of them are willing to deal with the lids. The demand for the type of plastic used in lids has apparently increased over time.

Personally, I don’t like to leave the caps on when I send a bottle for recycling. Not that I have a problem with recycling the lids. It’s just that I think it’s better to let the bottles dry out with the lid off.

You always need to pay attention to the recycling rules in your area. Where I used to live, their flyer only said they too plastics #1 and #2, and only in the shape of a bottle. When my husband talked to some of their representatives at a home expo, he was told they took all types of plastic, including plastic bags.

Where we are now takes plastics #1-7, but absolutely no plastic bags. They provided a great little chart we keep on the fridge that shows what they do and do not accept.

Just as with the rules about plastic caps, the rules for recycling other products can change over time and by where you live. You can’t take the answer from one place and be certain it’s right for another. You have to get answers that are specific to where you’re dealing with the recycling.

Overall, however, I’m just glad to hear that plastic caps can often be recycled. Much as I prefer to avoid using plastic at all, it’s nice to know that when it comes into my life, even that little piece may be able to be recycled. I just have to check the local rules.

3 replies on “Caps On or Off for Plastic Bottle Recycling?”

  1. Kisha A. says:

    I’m with you. I prefer to leave the tops off to finish drying. When i lived in CA they took everything but where I am now in AZ they only take #1 & 2, and then not all of them. Last year they didn’t take plastic at all and now they do, It was a matter of finding a company to do the recycling with from what I was told but it works. Every year something new will change and that’s a good thing, right?

  2. Lisa in Chicago says:

    We are not able to recycle bottle caps here in Chicago (unless it has recently changed). I’ve been saving the hard (not bendy) caps and turning them in at the local Aveda store. They have been working on creating new bottles for their products. Every little bit helps to make some changes out there.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Kisha and Lisa. It’s interesting seeing how these things work out in different areas.

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