Are plastic bottle caps recyclable? FAQ’s you need to know

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: September 17, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Plastic bottle caps are one of the many pieces of plastic that don’t break down, ultimately harming our oceans, our environments, and our wildlife. 

In recent years, as our knowledge of climate change and recycling has increased, we have had increasing questions about what we can safely recycle.

In short: yes, plastic bottle caps are now recyclable! There are different standards depending on your area and local recycling standards, so read on to learn more about recycling plastic bottle caps. 

We’ll run through a few Frequently Asked Question’s about recycling plastic bottle caps below so you can be sure you’re recycling properly. 

Are plastic bottle caps recyclable? 

Plastic bottle caps are recyclable, but it depends on the type of plastic and the rules of your local recycling center. 

If you throw a plastic bottle cap in the trash, it more than likely ends up in the ocean!

What should I do with plastic bottle caps?

The leading guidance says that you should leave the plastic bottle cap on the bottle when you recycle. 

You should ensure the bottle is free of all liquids before throwing it in the bin. 

If your local recycling center can not handle plastic bottle caps, you can consider donating them to a charity that will make good use of them.

What are plastic bottle caps made of?

Plastic bottle caps are often made from a different type of plastic than the bottles, which is why the question remains if they are too recyclable.

Plastic bottle caps are often made of #2 and #5 plastics, as opposed to bottles which are typically #1. These #2 and #5 plastics that make up the plastic bottle cap are also called:

  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)

Both HDPE and PP are useful in a variety of recycling applications, which makes it worth your while (and the planet’s) to recycle your plastic bottle cap!

What to do with plastic bottle caps?

In the past, guidance suggested that you need to separate the cap and the bottle to recycle. 

Not anymore! The Association of Plastic Recyclers states that now, emptying your plastic water bottle and replacing the cap is the best way to recycle today. 

Technological advances have made it easier for our recycling process to separate bottles and caps, not compromising the recycling of either. 

How are plastic bottle caps recycled?

Generally speaking, the recycling process starts in a Material Recovery Facility. The process occurs by: 

  • First separating the plastic water bottle and the plastic water bottle cap.
  • The facility uses pressure to flatten the bottles.
  • The bottle and cap go into the water through a vigorous cleaning process. 
  • Because of the different types of plastic, the plastic bottle cap floats, and the plastic bottle sinks. This makes the separation process easier.
  •  From there, the plastic bottle caps are shredded and condensed down. 
  • Finally, they shipped elsewhere to be manufactured into different plastics.

The process can vary depending on the state and county near you.

Do I need to flatten my plastic water bottle before recycling? 

You usually do not need to flatten the plastic water bottle. Just empty it and replace the cap.

What are alternatives to recycling plastic bottle caps?

Some ideas include:

  • Buy larger bottles, less single-use
  • Switch to a reusable bottle
  • Boxed water
  • Edible water pods
  • And more!

Do plastic bottle caps need to be recycled differently than bottles?

No. According to APR Caps On, the recycling process is meant to separate bottles and caps. Both types of plastic are then recycled into new plastic products.

Can milk bottle caps be recycled?

Milk bottle caps are often included in your household recycling collection.

Where to recycle plastic bottle caps?

You should always check with your local recycling guidelines to ensure your facility can handle the plastic water bottle caps. 

What if I can’t recycle plastic bottle caps?

If you can’t recycle based on your local standards, consider putting the caps in a bag if you are planning to throw them out so they can’t infect the oceans. You could search for ways to sell or donate. Plastic bottle caps make greatcraft objects, too! 

How can recycling plastic bottle caps help the environment?

Research suggests 20 million bottle caps contaminated our beaches and oceans in the past 3 decades. 

Understanding if plastic bottle caps are recyclable is vital in sorting your recycling habits and minimizing the amount of waste you create on a daily basis. 

Considering Americans consume billions of plastic water bottles each year and plastic is not biodegradable, learning how to recycle plastic bottle caps is a great step to take in reducing your footprint on this earth!

Recycling plastic bottle caps near me

Research can confirm if you’re local facility can handle plastic bottle caps. Your local recycling facility is a good resource.

In Summation:

  • Plastic bottle caps are recyclable.
  • Plastic bottle caps are one of the top ocean pollutants, making it more important than ever to understand how to recycle them.
  • You should not flatten your plastic bottle, but rinse it and recycle it with no liquid in it. Replace the cap before recycling.
  • Check local standards to determine if your local recycling center can handle plastic bottle caps.
  • Consider donating your plastic bottle caps to a nonprofit that uses them for good!

Contact us for more information on recycling plastic bottle caps.

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