Soda Bottle Caps

Did you know that the caps on soda bottles are made of a plastic that is not commonly recycled? (FYI: In Salt Lake City, they are included in the list of plastics that can be recycled. See below.)

Most soda bottles are made out of Type 1 Plastic (Polyethylene Terephthalate), a plastic generally accepted for recycling in most curbside and drop-off programs. Caps are generally made from Type 5 Plastic (Polypropylene) which is surprisingly hard to recycle. Therefore, most recycling programs ask that you remove the caps from bottles before placing them in recycling bins.

For one thing, removing the caps allows the bottles to dry out (reducing transportation costs by reducing weight). Also, open bottles are easier to crush and bale.  If bottles can be more easily crushed, more can fit into a bin/truck and less trips can be made to move the materials, further reducing transportation costs, reducing congestion on highways, reducing emissions and reducing fuel costs.

By not removing caps, the value of the mixed plastic goes down (if it’s an area where #5 cannot be recycled), making it more expensive for your recycling facility to process the materials and costing you money if it is a public works program. There is also an increased danger for workers from jammed machines due to the caps.

To determine if a bottle can be recycled, look for a triangle with chasing arrows on the bottom of the bottle.  If the number in the middle of the triangle corresponds to your local recycling facility’s accepted materials, the bottle is recyclable. If you choose not to find a way to recycle the caps, please be responsible and dispose of them in your trash receptacle.

Things to consider:

According to Preserve, their recycled #5 plastic uses at least:

  • 54 percent less water than virgin polypropylene
  • 64 percent less greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than virgin polypropylene
  • 75 percent less oil than virgin polypropylene
  • 48 percent less coal than virgin polypropylene
  • 77 percent less natural gas than virgin polypropylene
  • 46 percent less electricity than virgin polypropylene

Things you can do:



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