Recycling Guide to Caps, Lids and Tops

By KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News staff

For recycling enthusiasts, the recyclability of container caps, lids and tops can offer hours of stimulating conversation. For everyone else, the question of whether to recycle these small items is just plain annoying. Regardless of how you categorize yourself, the information below should boost your recycling IQ.

Plastic caps from plastic containers. Plastic containers usually come with a plastic top. Contrary to popular belief, the plastic cap can be recycled as long as it’s reattached to the plastic container from which it came. Examples: water bottle, peanut butter jar, Dunkin’ Donuts iced-coffee cup and sour cream container.

Plastic caps from Tetra-Pak boxes. Tetra-Paks include milk boxes, juice boxes, and broth and stock boxes. They often come with small screw-off plastic caps. Those caps can be recycled as long as they are reattached to the Tetra-Pak.

Orphaned plastic caps. Any loose plastic cap that has lost its container should be placed in the trash bin.

Metal caps from glass jars. The top can be recycled as long as it’s placed in the recycling bin separate from the jar. Examples: tops from pasta sauce jars, jam jars, Ball canning jars (rings and discs).

Metal bottle caps from glass bottles. Small metal bottle caps can no longer be placed in your recycling bin loose. They fall through the spaces in between conveyor belts at the Central Landfill’s recycling facility and cause mechanical problems. However, these bottle caps can be recycled. Place these bottle caps in an aluminum soup can until it is half full. Then, crimp the top of the can so that the bottle caps are trapped. Toss the crimped can in the recycling bin. Examples: beer bottle caps, soda bottle caps, Snapple bottle caps, wine bottle caps and olive oil bottle caps.

Metal discs from aluminum cans. Whether an aluminum can has a pop-top or requires a can opener, the resulting metal piece can be recycled. It’s best to leave the disc slightly hanging and folded down into the can, but if it is detached it can still be placed in the recycling bin.  Examples: soup can, tomato sauce can, cat food can, Ball canning jar disc. Metal lids are fine for recycling. You can either leave a bit of the lid attached and bend it into the can, or plop them down in the can’s bottom and give the can a little pinch.

Straws should be placed in the trash bin.

And remember, always empty the food or drink from your container before recycling. If you have access to a sink, give it a quick rinse.

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