This article was originally posted on Green and Growing
Recycling It is really easy to fall into the line of thinking that because an item is a plastic, it is recyclable. We throw the item in the bin and forget about it because we are under the impression that we are helping the environment. For the most part, we are. But there is more we need to consider when it comes to the plastic materials we purchase and discard. One such item, plastic bottles, jugs, and their lids, need a little more thought. Here are some things to consider before you put your plastic bottle caps in the recycling bin.
The Different Kinds of Plastic
There are several different kinds of plastic, and did you realize that some of your plastic bottles and lids are made of different ones? Bottles and jugs are typically made of #1 (polyethylene terephthalate) and #2 plastic (high-density polyethylene), whereas most caps are #5 plastic (polypropylene). In the recycling process, each material has to be sorted and processed with the same kind. Recycling facilities do not process all plastics together because the product would be unusable afterward.
First, a preface. Contact your local recycling facility to ensure they actually accept plastic bottle caps in the first place. Some still do not accept them. Your local facility will also be able to tell you if they prefer the cap on or off of the bottle or jug. There are some dangers that come with leaving the lid on though. Machinery crushes plastic to make more room for more during its transportation. Those high pressures can send caps shooting off at alarming speeds.
If you know the bottle or jug is a different kind of material than the cap, go ahead and separate it. The recycling facility will separate them in the recycling process anyway. Plastic containers though, like butter and sour cream containers, are generally made of the same material. You can keep the lid on those.
Remember to Reduce First
We all know that we should reduce, reuse, and recycle. We should reduce first and foremost because that limits the number of items that we will have to reuse and recycle. It saves energy money—which means more money can go toward other important matters. The United States uses 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour, and all of those bottles come with lids. If we reduce the number of bottles and lids that we use, more wildlife we will save.
After reducing our plastic consumption, we should reuse what we purchase. Keep in mind that it is not safe to keep using disposable water bottles for drinking. There are other ways to reuse your bottles and lids though. Many crafts and DIYs are available online to give you ideas.
It is only after we have done everything we can with our plastics that we should send them off to be recycled.
Now that you are more aware of what happens with our plastics, especially different kinds of plastics and bottle caps, you can make more informed decisions. It only takes a little effort to make a big difference.