I recycle. I know the drill. Take the cap off the plastic bottle, throw the cap away, recycle the bottle. It’s always been disappointing to me to have to throw that cap away, even though I understand why I must.
1. Plastic caps are made from a different type of plastic and have a different melting point than bottles, so they can contaminate a batch during the recycling process and ruin the whole load.
2. Plastic bottles are crushed and baled together, and if caps are left on it makes it harder to compress the bottles. This creates trapped air and possibly water in the bottles. See Lesson 6 in this post on Fake Plastic Fish.
3. Because of their small size, the caps can create difficulties during the sorting process, such as ending up mixed in with pieces of glass and causing problems with glass recycling.
4. Caps create a litter issue at recycling facilities and beyond, and can be dangerous to wildlife.
So, was I thrilled to hear about Aveda’s Caps Recycling Program! You can save all of your bottle caps and bring them to any Aveda store for recycling. Aveda will then have them recycled into new caps and containers for Aveda products. On their website, Aveda explains what types of caps they accept; they basically take any rigid plastic caps. They are also encouraging schools to participate.
This effort is a great example of a company taking responsibility for a waste issue that they contribute to and coming up with a workable solution that also involves community. Of course plastic is not the most favorable material to use at all, but the more that consumers and companies can find ways to reduce plastic waste while also finding markets to recycle it, we’re on the right track. If Aveda is truly recycling the caps into new caps, that’s a rare case of recycling plastic into the same product again and being able to recycle it repeatedly, as opposed to the typical one-time recycling of plastic into something different (ex: plastic bottles recycled into unrecyclable park benches).
So, take your caps to Aveda and thank them for doing this! While you’re there, you’ll probably be enticed into buying something, which I’m sure is something they’re after as well.