Recently, a website user emailed us a great question: is there any way to recycle the caps off my bottles?
Yes! But not the way you think…
Before we tell you how to do it, let’s talk about how not to do it. Don’t throw it loose in your curbside recycling bin! Yes, lids are metal, and in theory they can be recycled with metal cans. But, they get lost in a recycling facility. When you place your recyclable materials in your curbside recycling bin, all of the materials are mixed together. A truck drives up, empties your bin, and your recyclables are mixed with all of your neighbors’ materials. What happens next?
The recycling truck delivers the materials to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF). At the MRF, the truck dumps all of the materials on a cement floor. Scoop, by scoop, the recyclables are loaded onto the sorting line. The sorting line consists of conveyor belts transferring materials through different stations, some staffed by humans and some automated. For example, an enormous magnet removes bi-metal cans (like soup cans), and an eddy current removes aluminum cans. Throughout the process, screens separate materials by sizes. This is where bottle caps get lost. They fall through the screens before they can get captured for recycling.
So, what do you do? You outsmart the system. Simply make your own collection can for metal bottle caps and lids. Next time you open a can of soup or tomatoes, keep the can and place it next to your recycling station. As you open bottles and jars, place the lids in the can. When the can is nearly full, crimp it closed, throw it in your curbside recycling container. As your can full of lids moves through the MRF, all of the metal will get collected for recycling.