Plastic Bottle Cap Recycling - Keep Them On!

Did You Know?

Alberta Depot runs one of the only programs in Canada that follows the industry recommended practice for recycling plastic bottle caps. Many Canadian Municipal Recycling Facilities recommend taking the plastic caps off water bottles and other beverage containers because they are often too small or light to be sorted properly to avoid contaminating other material streams. Throwing the caps into the garbage was a widely accepted practice for several years since the two different types of plastic could not be recycled effectively together. In recent years, processing technology in the recycling industry has improved and so has the demand for material such as plastic bottle caps. Since plastic bottle caps will not biodegrade when thrown into a landfill, Alberta Depot recommends returning them on your empty beverage containers when you bring them to your local Depot.

 How Does It Work?

Plastic bottle caps are typically made of two different types of plastic: #2 High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and #5 Polypropylene (PP). Since both plastics will melt at a different temperature than the body of the plastic water bottle (which is made of #1 Polyethylene Terephthalate, or PET), the material needs to be separated using a water bath. Once submerged, the bottle caps will float to the surface of the tank and be easily collected, while the PET bottle sinks to the bottom. The plastic is then sold to a Canadian based plastic processing company where 98 percent of the caps are recycled into a polyolefin blend. Materials that can be made out of polyolefin include food containers such as yogurt or margarine tubs, beverage containers, carrier bags, and detergent or cosmetic bottles. Due to contamination, the remaining 2 percent of the caps are used as an alternative fuel source to heat the boilers at the facility.

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