are plastic bottle caps recyclable?

yes. unfortunately many recycling centers across the country do not recycle them.

why? there are various reasons.  most plastic bottle caps are made from polypropylene [#5] plastic.  this material is different than the common plastic bottle which is made from polyethylene terephthalate [#1] plastic.

#5 polypropylene

polypropylene has a higher melting point than polyethylene and if the two are processed together they don’t mix well because of this.  it is also unfortunate that many recycling centers don’t deal with the caps just because of their size.  it is tedious to have them separated from bottles and the small size can jam sorting equipment.  beyond that, many curbside recycling programs ask residents not to put the caps in their bins because bottles will dry out faster and reduce the weight during transport.  in turn, the open bottles are easier to crush at processing centers.

according to earth911.com [a search engine for finding recycling centers specific to material types] the only place that recycles #5 plastic bottle caps in the state of Rhode Island is the Aveda salon at the Providence Place mall in downtown Providence. i intend to learn about what happens to our discarded plastic bottle caps starting with the caps that are discarded in my current home, Providence, RI.

if plastics, and especially plastic bottle caps, are so difficult to sort for recycling programs, what happens to them in the end?  do recycling centers deal with these issues or are they more likely to send it all [plastic #1-7] to a landfill in order to save time and money?

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