Before recycling your plastic bottle, take the cap off first! The picture above shows a conveniently located container for bottle caps on top of a recycling container for plastics. Why should you remove the cap? The cap and the bottle are made of different plastics, so removing the cap increases the chance of your bottle getting recycled. Plastic bottles are usually made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or commonly known as a #1 plastic, while caps are made of polypropylene, or #5 plastic. These two types of plastics melt at different temperatures in the recycling process. Removing the cap also helps to dry out the bottle. Mixing plastics can contaminate the batch being recycled, which is why the caps should be taken off. Because plastic caps are a thicker material, they can jam the equipment at recycling facilities, posing risks for workers. But what should you do with the plastic caps once they are separated?
Plastic caps are not commonly recycled, so most people just throw them away. However, there are places that do recycle them, but that will vary depending on where you live so you will have to do your own research. #5 plastics are made into items such as tupperware, ice scrapers, rakes, battery cables, and more. Although it takes extra time to recycle your bottle cap, consider the positive impact it will make on the environment. So next time you recycle your plastic bottle, remove the cap!