The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County has received a number of calls about recycling plastic bottle caps now that the nonprofit Caps of Love has stopped collecting them locally.
It appears that thoughtful volunteers are left with garbage bags full of diligently collected and sorted plastic bottle caps and no outlet. All of the callers wanted to know if they could bring their bags of plastic bottle caps to the SWA.
Unfortunately, the SWA’s recycling facility is simply not equipped to handle bags of loose bottle caps. Free range bottle caps are too small to be sorted properly and cannot be baled with the rest of the plastic containers. If they make it to the SWA’s Recovered Materials Processing Facility, loose plastic bottle caps will end up on the floor and will not be recycled, or they will contaminate other recyclables, such as glass.
The SWA has found varying disposal options for residents who have a surplus of plastic bottle caps:
- Place the plastic bottle caps out with the trash. While this may make bottle cap collectors feel that their effort was wasted, Palm Beach County is unique in that it has two waste-to-energy facilities that can combust all residential waste to create electricity. So, any bottle caps thrown out will be used to generate electricity. Through these two facilities, the SWA produces enough energy to power an estimated 74,000 homes each year – or all the homes in the cities of Boca Raton and Palm Beach Gardens.
- Research the GIMME 5 program from preserveproducts.com. While mainly located in the northeast, their website lists local Whole Food Markets as accepting plastic caps in support of their effort. Residents can also mail their caps directly to the GIMME5 program, but that will come with postage charges. (As a governmental agency, the SWA cannot and does not endorse this company or their efforts. Do your due diligence to find the best recycling or disposal option for you.)
Going forward, the SWA is happy to recycle plastic caps that are securely screwed on to their plastic bottles. So, to Recycle Right Everyday, leave plastic lids on plastic bottles and place them in the Blue recycling bin so that both may be recycled.
If you have questions about metal bottle caps, leave those off of their glass counterparts and place both in the Blue recycling bin. In the SWA’s recycling process, a magnet will pull these metal objects off the conveyer belt first for proper recycling.