Can You Recycle Caps or Lids?
posted in Recycling Rules by Marissa Begley
The recyclability of container caps and lids has always been a popular question and the topic of many stimulating conversations between recycling enthusiasts.
What caps, tops, and lids can be recycled in Sioux Falls?
- Plastic Bottles (Soda, Water, Pills): If Plastic, Yes! Plastic bottles usually come with a plastic cap. Contrary to popular belief, the plastic cap can be recycled as long as it’s reattached to the empty plastic container. If loose, it will fall right through the equipment, causes mechanical issues, and is nearly impossible to capture.
- Plastic Jugs (Milk, Juice): If Plastic, Yes! If the cap is plastic, make sure the jug is EMPTY and place back on before recycling.
- Plastic Tubs (Yogurt, Sour Cream, Ice Cream, Peanut Butter): If Plastic, Yes! If the cap is plastic, make sure the tub is EMPTY and place back on before recycling.
- Glass Jars (Pasta Sauce, Jam, Ball Canning): If Metal, Yes! If the lid and ring is metal, you can either place back on the empty jar or place in loose. Magnets in the process will sort out metal lids after the glass is broken down.
- Glass Bottles (Beer, Wine, Snapple, Olive Oil): If Metal, Yes! Little metal caps from glass bottles are too small to place in your recycling bin loose, however, if you can contain them in a metal can like a soup can and crimp the top to trap them inside, they have a chance of making it through the sorting process to be recycled.
- Metal Cans (Soup, Veggies, Tuna, Tomato Sauce, Beer): If Metal, Yes! Pop-top metal tabs, metal discs, or metal lids from cans get sorted out with magnets in the process. It’s best to keep the lid connected to the metal container if possible, if detached, place in the bottom of the empty can before recycling.
- Orphaned or Loose Plastic Caps: No. Loose lids are usually too small for the sorting equipment and fall right through, unable to be captured. If they are big enough to not fall through, they typically end up as a contaminant with other material (e.g. a yogurt tub lid gets sorted out with paper due to its shape, or a small bottle cap ends up with the broken down glass).
- Cartons or Tetra-Paks (Juice, Milk, Broth, Wine): No. Remove plastic cap and throw away (acts as a contaminant when carton is recycled with paper and too small to capture if loose).
- Pump or Spray Nozzles (Cleaning Supplies, Spray Butter, Lotion Pumps): No. Remove and throw away. The metal springs and mixed materials make these non-recyclable.
- Plastic Caps on Non-Plastic Containers (Glass jar with plastic lid, Metal cans with plastic lid): No. Remove and keep lid out of the recycle bin.
- To-Go Cup Lids (Gas Station, Fast Food): No. Remove and throw away. This material is not currently recyclable.
- Plastic Straws: No. Remove and throw away. This material is not currently recyclable.
- Wine Bottle Corks: No. Remove and keep out of the recycle bin.
- Chemical Containers (Pesticide, herbicide, cleaners): No. Remove and throw away. Any containers that once held pesticide, herbicide, cleaners, etc need to be empty, rinsed and aired out to protect our employees.
Plastic bottle caps are usually made from a different type of plastic than the bottle, which melt at different temperatures during the recycling process. At the plastic processors, containers and lids are shredded down together into “flakes” then separated using a big water bath (the bottle will sink and the cap will float). After the materials are separated, they can be melted down and used to create new products like bottles, milk jugs or even park benches!
Did we miss one? Contact us with any questions you have!