Metal Lids And Plastic Caps: What You Can Recycle And What You Can Throw Away

Posted on: 13 August 2015

Certain types of bottle caps have traditionally been treated differently from the bottles during the recycling process. In fact, the question of what you can do with your caps and lids in general is somewhat complicated. Knowing what you're allowed to recycle and what must be thrown away for garbage disposal is important.

Q: Can you recycle plastic bottle caps?

A: Yes, if the cap is left on the bottle. At one time, plastic bottle caps were not treated as recyclable because the bottles and the caps were made from different types of plastic. Recycling centers would recycle the bottles because they were more valuable, but required the caps to be thrown away. The recycling process has changed since then. Recycling centers ask that consumers leave the cap on the bottle and throw the entire thing in the recycling bin. Once at the recycling center, the machines will shred the bottles with caps, then separate the two different types of plastic from one another by a float/sink process. 

Q: Can you recycle metal lids from glass bottles?

A: Yes, if the lid isn't thrown loose in the recycling container. Metal lids from glass bottles are very small and have a way of falling through the conveyor belts at the recycling center, which can cause mechanical problems. Metal lids from bottles should not be recycled individually. When out and about, metal lids should be thrown away in the garbage. When at home, metal lids from bottles should be collected in a partially opened, cleaned out aluminum can. When the can is full, the lid for the aluminum can should be folded into a closed position and put in the recycling bin. 

Q: Can you recycle the pop top from an aluminum soda can?

A: Yes, if the top is left on or in the can.

Q: Can you throw away metal lids from glass jars?

A: Yes, if the lid is left on the jar. Unlike metal lids from glass bottles, lids from jars (like spaghetti jars and similar types of containers) are supposed to be left on the jar and placed in the recycling bin as one whole piece. If the lid has no jar, then it should be placed in the trash. 

For more information about what you can recycle and what you should throw away, contact your local sanitation department (or companies like B-P Trucking Inc). They should be able to answer questions over the phone or send you informational literature on the topic.