Yes, You can Leave your Bottle Caps on for Recycling!

Turns out I’ve been recycling incorrectly in all my years as a greenie! Once upon a time I was told to leave off caps and tops from jars, bottles and tubes because they were not recyclable. But it turns out this is not always the case!

Our friends over at Preserve are working to get the word out about this and help educate consumers about the benefits of keeping your top on (if you will). As part of their Gimme 5 Caps Recycling Program, they encourage you to leave all caps on your recyclables so that they get recycled with the bottles.

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When separated, bottle caps literally fall through the cracks of the recycling sorting system, and end up in the landfill… or worse, on our beaches, in forests, and in our water. Preserve explains that bottle caps are one of the most frequently found forms of trash in the world’s oceans and on beaches even though they are made from materials that are very recyclable (high-density polyethylene and polypropylene).

Related: How our Trash Affects the Planet

The Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) recommends that caps be recycled by keeping the caps on for items like highly recyclable plastic containers such as soda and water bottles. These bottles are typically marked with recycling codes #1 and #2. The size of the bottle provides a “carrier” for the cap and allows it to move safely and fully through the recycling facility.

But before doing so, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your local recycling facility to inquire whether they are able to support caps-on.  If they do, the best way to recycle caps that are on rigid plastic bottles is on the bottle itself.

If your cap doesn’t have a recyclable container to attach it to (ie: a Tetra-Pak container, a toothpaste tube, plastic caps on glass bottles, or caps on baby food pouches), Gimme 5 is rolling out a cap collection at select schools and Whole Foods Market stores around the country.

If you are a school and want to start collecting caps to keep this plastic messiness out of our ecosystems, you can connect with Preserve to learn how start a program in your school. If you’re not near an established Gimme 5 bin (find one here), you will need to pay a minimal fee for the shipping back to Gimme 5.

Preserve explains that with the help of their partners like Whole Foods Market, they hope to expand the number of Gimme5 recycling bins which accept hard to recycle items like yogurt cups, caps, and take out containers across the throughout 2016.

You can also mail in your caps to the address here:

Preserve Gimme 5
823 State Route 13
Cortland, NY 13045-6574

Preserve takes the products and turns them into signature recycled home products, like toothbrush and razor handles. Preserve also uses recycled plastic to make a variety of other products such as food storage, reusable cups and more. We’re big fans of these guys, and want to support all their efforts to recycle as much plastic garbage as possible.

Did you know? Here’s How to Recycle your Brita Filters with Preserve!

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About the Author

A vegan chef, cookbook author, educator, writer, surfer, and yogi based in San Francisco, Andrea is also the Accounts Manager for Important Media. Follow her foodie adventures at AndreaBertoli.com, Vibrant Wellness Journal, Green Living Ideas and Eat Drink Better. Find more from Andrea on Facebook and Instagram