Recycling Plastic Bottles? Don’t Forget the Lid
Things can get confusing when it comes to recycling. Can you recycle yoghurt pots, pizza boxes, and foil? Should you put the lids on jars and bottles when you put them in the recycling? Well when it comes to plastic bottles, the answer is yes.
Lids and bottles are separated with ease at recycling plants
Do you take the cap off your plastic bottles because you think that it will make it easier for it to be recycled once it reaches the recycling plant? Well you can start leaving the lids on because it’s not true.
The plastic bottles, complete with lids, are ground up and put through a water bath. As the lids are usually made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP), they tend to float, whereas the plastic bottles, made from PET, are heavier and they will sink. This makes it easy for the different types of material to be separated so they can be recovered and turned into new items.
The trouble with plastic lids
Sadly, many people assume that the lids can’t be recycled, and they throw them in with their general waste. This can often mean that they end up in landfill, or even worse, in our oceans and on our beaches, where they can do untold damage. Plastic bottle lids are one of the most common items of litter found on beaches. Plastic takes many years to degrade, if indeed it does at all, and in the meantime, bottle lids and caps can become choking hazards for wildlife, especially fish and birds.
Plastic is a valuable resource
Another good reason to not ditch the lids in the bin is that they’re made from plastic that is actually a pretty valuable resource. Our throwaway society has taught us that everything is disposable, but the fact is that recycling the plastic lids and turning them into new items like bins and garden furniture is a whole lot better for the environment than making new plastics from raw materials like crude oil.
So the next time you finish your bottle of Evian, make sure it’s completely empty, put the lid back on and pop it into the recycling bin. Then feel happy that you’ve just done your own little bit to protect the environment and preserve valuable resources.