Hey, Jennifer Jarland! Can I Recycle My Caps and Lids? (Yes and No)

Hey, Jennifer Jarland! Can I Recycle My Caps and Lids? (Yes and No)

  • Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. You can reach her at 630-208-3841 or recycle@countyofkane.org.
  • (SIDE NOTE TO LOCAL MEDIA: Please feel free to recycle this article.)

Transparent recyclable plastic bottles in different color

Following the article on recycling plastic bottles, tubs, jugs, and jars. I received a few questions about caps and lids. Can you recycle them? Yes and no. Here’s the scoop.

Things change

You may remember hearing that you cannot recycle your bottle caps. But that is old information! For the last eight years or so the plastic recycling industry has encouraged us to recycle those little caps along with the bottles, the key is to reattach them to the plastic bottle before recycling.

Caps — Yes

Caps are small and screw on. Before you recycle, please put plastic caps back on empty plastic bottles (water, soda, etc.), jugs (juice, detergent, etc.), or jars (peanut butter, mayonnaise, etc.). We want to recycle caps even though they are small because thousands of them per day really add up! Do not throw the caps in by themselves because they will not get recycled that way. Loose plastic caps are trash because they are too small to be captured by the sorting system at recycling facilities.

Loose metal caps (beer, juice, etc.) are fine to throw into the recycling bin, even when not attached to a container, because a magnet will capture them and channel them to the right place in the sorting facility.

Lids — Plastic No, Metal Yes

Lids are thin and flat and snap on. Plastic lids are generally considered trash. They will not stay attached to the container all the way from your bin to the truck to the sorting facility conveyor belt. Because they are flat and thin, they are often mechanically sorted incorrectly, with the flat and thin materials – namely paper – and then end up contaminating the paper batch. So tubs like margarine, yogurt, and sour cream lids should be thrown in the trash while the containers themselves can be placed in the recycling.

Metal lids (from cans, coffee tins, paint cans, etc) can be recycled separately, just place them in the recycling cart loose.

But what about …

If the container and the cap are different materials; then you have to separate them. If you have a glass bottle with a metal cap, then they can both go into the recycling bin – but separately. If you have a metal coffee can with a plastic lid, you recycle the can and trash the lid. Catching on? Spread the news!

When you follow the recycling guidelines you are helping to keep the program successful. Please refer to the Recycling Guidelines on the Kane County Recycles website for a more detailed list of what is and what is not recyclable in your curbside cart.

Thanks for all that you do to Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

Questions: Kane County Recycling Coordinator, Jennifer Jarland, 630-208-3841, recycle@countyofkane.org.

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