Recycling bottle caps

August 25th, 2011

Bottle caps to be recycled in a Goodwill collection site on Young St. Photo by Nina Wu.

Bottle caps to be recycled at the Beretania Goodwill (drop-off on the Young St. side). Photo by Nina Wu.

We all lead busy lives, so it isn't easy getting to the recycling right away. It takes an extra effort to sort and recycle, but we all can make a difference.

I was reminded the other day that we can recycle plastic bottle caps — the ones you usually throw out because they're not accepted at Reynolds Recycling (which requests that you remove them before redeeming your bottles).

But certain bottle caps can be recycled at four Goodwill locations on Oahu, as a result of a partnership and hard work by non-profit group B.E.A.C.H, along with Matson, Young Bros. and Pepsi, which will help transport the caps to Lucent Polymers in Indiana to be recycled.

It turns out you can recycle Nos. 2, 4, and 5 plastic bottle caps. No. 2 caps are HDPE (high-density polyethylene), No. 4 caps are LDPE (low-density polyethylene), and No. 5 caps are PP (polypropylene).

Unfortunately, you won't find numbers stamped on to the bottle caps, but you should know that most beverage bottle caps, tube caps (like toothpaste caps) and vitamin bottle caps are made of these three plastics. If in doubt, just start with water and beverage bottle caps.

Coffee cup lids, drink lids, pumps, sprays and caps with metal in them can not be taken by the recycling program. That Starbucks metal cap that's in the bin up above, for instance, should not be in there.

The caps need to be clean and free of stickers, labels, foils, seals and metal. Not sure which ones can be recycled? B.E.A.C.H. has pictures to help you out. The following caps can be recycled. The following caps cannot be recycled.

I've started a collection in a small basket hanging on the wall in the garage. Yes, it will mean an extra trip to get them recycled — same with glossy magazines.

My collection of bottle caps to be recycled.

My collection of bottle caps to be recycled.

But at least bottle caps don't take up a lot of space, and I can bring them on a day when I'm swinging by one of the four Goodwill locations that takes them. It would be nice if there were more locations where you could drop them off for recycling.

One day, maybe the places that redeem bottles will also collect bottle caps and collaborate with B.E.A.C.H. — wouldn't that be great? (A reader suggested this as well, and I agree). I'm glad to hear that a lot of schools are getting involved, since they are our future generations of beach-goers.

At the very least, make sure your bottle caps don't litter the beach or land in the ocean, where they end up in the stomachs of marine wildlife.

The same goes for plastic toys on the beach.

Bottle caps do not go in the curbside recycling bin because they're a different kind of plastic than the No. 1 and No. 2 plastic containers that can go in there, and the two shouldn't be mixed when they're in the recycling machine. If you have any plastic that is clearly labeled as No. 1 or No. 2 (a drink lid with the No. 1 PETE on it), that can go in the blue bin.

6 Responses to “Recycling bottle caps”

  1. The Green Leaf Thinker Toys and Tots Ala Moana collecting plastic bottle caps:

    [...] Goodwill Industries of Hawaii previously collected bottle caps at four of its locations for recycling, but stopped on Dec. 1, 2011, saying it decided to discontinue the pilot program, although it continues to collect HI5 beverage cans for recycling. [...]

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  5. Peter Yanagawa:

    This is bunk. Goodwill does NOT recycle caps. About a year ago, even after this article and the TV interview, I took my bag of caps to Young Street and the employee took the caps, along with other things I donates, and said we don't take these, and threw them in the trash.

    This is just bullshit PR on behalf of Goodwill and I don't believe this has changed.

    If the head of Goodwill says they are green but the employees don't get the memo, then Goodwill has no goodwill and is as brown as shit.

  6. Nina Wu:

    Hi Peter, Goodwill stopped this pilot program more than a year ago, as updated in my blog...Whether they ever honored the recycling of the caps they did collect during the pilot program is unclear. But yes, please be aware they no longer accept plastic bottle caps. Last year, the Kokua Hawaii Foundation worked through schools to recycle plastic bottle caps. Hopefully they will do it again next year.

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