Why You Should Leave The Cap On Plastic Bottles When You Recycle

If you regularly recycle plastic bottles, you may have wondered about the cap of the bottle. The cap and bottle are often made of different plastics, and there’s a common belief that you should remove the cap before recycling.

However, that advice may be outdated. Lifehacker shares that when you remove the cap from a plastic bottle, “you’ve essentially thrown it right in the garbage.”

Photo: Pexels/mali maeder

The Association of Plastic Recyclers agrees that caps should be left on and recycled. They explain: “In the past the plastics recycling industry was not able to effectively recycle bottles with caps on so the message to remove the cap was created. Recycling collection and processing technology has improved, demand for the recyclable material has increased allowing the current caps on recycling message and process.”

Having the ability to recycle the caps is huge, considering the Plastic Pollution Coalition estimates some 5 billion plastic caps pollut California alone each year.

Photo: Pexels/Krizjohn Rosales

Another misconception is that bottles should be crushed before being recycled. The Association of Plastic Recyclers clarifies that crushing the bottles is not necessary and can actually hinder the sorting process.

To follow the current recycling guidelines, you should empty any liquid from plastic bottles and replace the cap before putting them in the recycling bin.

Photo: Pexels/George Becker

Personally, the recycling plant I use requires caps to be removed from the plastic bottles and thrown away before they’ll accept the bottles. It’s also easier if the bottles are crushed so they fit more easily in the bins, but maybe they’re just behind on the times.

Did you know about the best-practice way to recycle plastic bottles? Let us know!

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