Heading to the recycle bin to toss a plastic bottle? Did you know that in many places, you can’t recycle the cap?
Even if you are able to recycle those plastic bottle caps, recycling plastic is very inefficient. When you recycle plastic what you’re actually doing is called downcycling. Each time plastic goes through the recycling process, you end up with a lower and lower grade of plastic. Eventually, that plastic is of such poor quality that it’s headed straight to the landfill, where it doesn’t biodegrade. For plastic, the recycling center is just a pit stop on the way to the landfill.
Many people don’t know that they can’t recycle plastic bottle caps, and when you toss a bottle with the cap on into the recycling, it can cause problems at the recycling center. According to Earth911:
“The simple act of leaving a cap on the bottle has also traditionally created problems at the sorting facility. When bottles are crushed for shipment, caps can shoot off at high speeds, causing a safety hazard for recycling workers. Or if the bottles arenít crushed but caps are left on, the bottles retain air and take up too much space, meaning fewer bottles can be transported for recycling.“
That’s no good at all! If you’re not craft-minded, reusing bottle caps might not be high on your to do list. Luckily, there are some resources for recycling those suckers. Check out the next page for deets!
Next>> Resources for Recycling Bottle Caps
Creative Commons photo by stevendepolo
Recycling Resources for Plastic Bottle Caps
Looking for some options to recycle plastic bottle caps? Look no further!
- Check with your city. Some cities do accept plastic bottle caps, but they may require that you remove the cap from the bottle and put it in the bin separately. The only way to find out is to check with your city. Try Googling something like “[YourCity] Plastic Recycling.” Lots of cities now have websites where that information is easy to access.
- Whole Foods. Some Whole Foods Markets accept #5 plastic caps for recycling. Next time you’re shopping, check their bins to see if yours does, too!
- Earth911. This is my go-to for any recycling question. You can search the Earth911 database for “plastic caps” to find facilities near you that will accept them.
- Caps Can Do. If you can’t find a local place to drop off your plastic caps for recycling, you can ship them to Caps Can Do, a company that specializes in recycling #5 plastic.
Recycling is great, but reusing is better when you consider how inefficient plastic recycling is. There are lots of fun ways to reuse plastic caps, no matter what level of crafting you’re at! Check out the projects on the next page.
Next>> How to Reuse Plastic Bottle Caps
Creative Commons photo by Hey Paul
15 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bottle Caps
Got a stash of plastic bottle caps all saved up? It’s time to get crafty!
1. Make your bars of soap last longer with a handmade plastic cap soap dish.
2. Grab the kiddos and turn your old bottle caps into cute ladybug toys.
3. Another kid-friendly project: turn old bottle caps into cute fridge magnets.
4. If you’re feeling artsy, you can try recreating these plastic cap ornaments from Michele Made.
5. String your plastic caps up on twine or fishing line to create a beautiful hanging art piece! I think this would look lovely in a rainbow of colors, don’t you?
6. Ellen at The Long Thread shows you how to use old plastic caps to make your own stamps.
7. Turn a bunch of old caps into a toy superhero!
8. Grab some toothpicks and turn old bottlecaps into spinning tops.
Next>> More plastic bottle cap reuse!
Photo by Karen Lee
Plastic Tip: Of course, there’s a reason that we say, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” They’re sort of in order of importance. The best way to combat waste from plastic bottle caps? Don’t buy products in plastic bottles!
9. A pair of plastic bottle caps plus some dry rice and a few stickers makes adorable mini shakers for the kids to play with.
10. Separate your caps by color, and use them to create plastic cap collages.
11. Are you a seamstress? Plastic bottle caps make a good base for a mini pincushion.
12. Create moulds and turn old plastic caps into a new knife handle! WARNING: melting plastic indoors is not super great for your indoor air quality. Crack a window open, turn your fans on high, and try to stay out of the room when you’re not checking on the project’s progress.
13. Love and Lollipops shows you how to turn old plastic caps into sweet miniature cakes.
14. String up multi-colored plastic caps along with other salvaged plastic to make stunning trash streamers.
15. Martha Stewart made these bottlecap pushpins out of metal caps, but plastic would work just as well.
Creative Commons photo by s.schmitz