Sunday, May 30, 2010

Plastic Caps and Lids Not Recyclable

How many times have you stood over the recycle bin and wondered if caps and lids from plastic containers are recyclable?  Well, they are not.

Caps and lids are often made out of a different type of plastic and therefore must be separated to avoid cross contamination.  Basically a hard plastic versus a softer plastic that is easier to break down through reheating.

The caps and lids are a terrible problem for the recycle center because they have to be sorted out and removed from the generic plastic recycle pile.  Small lids can jam the sorting machines and have to be pulled out by hand which is hazardous.  Dairy tub lids and detached metal lids are larger and flatter so the automated sorting equipment sends them to the paper and cardboard area where they cause contamination.  To ad insult to injury, capped bottles can ex;lode when compacted which posed a danger to the workers.

What to do?  Plastic lids should be throwrn away period.

Got a metal lid?  A metal lid may be recycled only if it is still attached to the can and folded in on itself.  Lids that are detached from cans often get incorrectly mixed with paper and cardboard during the sorting process. I know I have done this often with dog food can lids.  I will amend my ways now.
Also do not flatten cans.  The cans will be flattened during the sorting process.  Again this has been part of my process and I still see commercials where some woman with OCD is cleaning and flattening her cans before throwing them away.  Wrongo in the Congo.  Just leave the lid attached and pushed back in the can and toss it in the recycle bin.

One other common question.  What about the little plastic ring ar4ound the neck of the bottle?  Go ahead and leave it on.  It's so small it won't cause a contamination problem and it's usually fixed in place so it won't pop off and jam the equipment.

I read an article from our local recycling center and modified it a wee bit.  Hope you think twice next time you have lids to throw away.


Anonymous said...

Hi FF!! Then why do the recycle instructions say to leave lids, labels etc on. I try to do what I am told. I swear, I live alone and have more recycle in our bins than anyone in the other 2 apartments combined. And I thought I was doing a good thing. Oh well, live and learn. Sue Mc.

Frugal Fraulein said...

Sue there may be different instructions in different areas of the country. The labels can stay on but the small caps can screw up some sorting machinery. Glad you are reading and recycling!! FF

Anonymous said...

You can recycle those small lids at Aveda. At my office we have a small box where everyone brings in their lids and then we bring them to Aveda store.