Many people might be surprised to learn that when it comes to recycling, there have always been some unwritten rules to follow. For years, one of those rules was to separate the caps from your plastic water bottles. Well, rules change.
The Association of Plastic Recyclers recently put out some guidelines that state it is now preferred to keep your bottles and caps together.
The reason caps were once excluded when it came to recycling efforts was that they were traditionally hard to recycle. Plus, the bottles and caps are usually made from two different kinds of plastics, and when the two are mixed, they contaminate each other. Times change, though, and so does the technology used in recycling. While the Association of Plastic Recycling is giving us the thumbs up, it would still be a good idea to double check with your local authority first before changing your routine.
In the past year, the rules that govern recycling have changed dramatically, and it’s for the better. As we mentioned, we have technology to thank. Traditionally, the caps and bottles weren’t able to be recycled in the same machinery because of the two types of plastics. More specifically, the two different plastics have different densities. But now, those differences in density are what makes it possible to process them at the same time, and it’s actually pretty easy. Here’s how it works.
The bottles and caps are dumped into a machine that grinds everything, regardless of the source (bottle vs. cap), down into tiny flakes. Those flakes are then deposited into a container with liquid. The plastic flakes from the caps are heavier than the flakes from the bottles, so they float to the bottom of the tank. The flakes from the bottles themselves will float on top. So, the two are easily separated and go their separate ways on the recycling timeline.
What’s more, the plastic from the caps are in pretty high demand across the globe, so now it’s actually preferred to throw your caps in with your other recycling. Now, taking care of the planet is easier than ever!