Should You Keep the Cap On When Recycling Plastic Bottles?

Even in this age of increased sustainability awareness, plastic bottles are everywhere. They hold sodas, water, milk, and a variety of other beverages.

Needless to say, they are a packing staple at this point.

Fortunately, they can easily be recycled and are accepted by most curbside programs. But many of us still have concerns when recycling plastic bottles.

For instance, many of us wonder if we should leave caps on when recycling these bottles.

Don’t worry though – today, we are going to answer all of your questions. Once we’re done, you’ll understand exactly how to recycle plastic bottles.

Should you leave the caps on when recycling plastic bottles?

Yes, you should leave the caps on when recycling plastic bottles. While in the past this was discouraged, today it’s okay.

Why do we need to keep the cap on when recycling plastic bottles?

One of the greatest arguments against throwing caps away is the fact that today’s technology is advanced enough to recycle them together with their corresponding plastic bottles.

Also, throwing away caps just adds more plastic to landfills – a huge waste of resources.

Beyond this, demand for recycled plastic bottle caps has increased over the years.

Made of polypropylene (PP) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE), these caps are usually lighter than their corresponding PET bottles. However, this doesn’t cause any recycling problems.

During the recycling process, both materials are crushed into flakes and thoroughly washed. At this point, the cap flakes float while the bottle flakes sink, making separation easier.

What happens if you throw out plastic bottle caps?

Apart from adding plastic to landfills, throwing out your plastic bottle caps can have serious negative environmental effects. For instance, they can end up polluting oceans and other water bodies, harming marine life that ingests them.

In fact, in California alone, 5 billion plastic caps are estimated to pollute the environment every year.

On a larger scale, research shows that bottle caps are among the 5 most popular ocean pollutants gathered during beach cleaning activities worldwide.

Moreover, there are among the top 5 deadliest items for marine life.

Should I crush my plastic bottles for recycling?

While recyclers used to recommend that we crush our plastic bottles before recycling them, this is no longer the case.

According to MRF Material Flow Study, doing this can lead to inaccurate sorting and make your bottles end up in the paper stream.

So to ensure that your bottles are properly sorted, maintain their 3D form as much as possible.

Other tips for recycling plastic bottles

Apart from leaving the caps on your plastic bottles, here are other tips to follow when recycling these bottles:

  • Empty your plastic bottles before recycling them
  • Quickly rinse the bottles beforehand

Clean and recycle!

When trying to get rid of plastic bottles and their caps, the best thing you can do is clean and recycle them.

You don’t need to go overboard with the recycling process. Just toss your clean intact bottles into your recycle bin and everything will be fine!

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