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Can Plastic Bottle Caps be Recycled?

By Edited Sep 22, 2016 2 2

In 1988 the Society of the Plastics Industry created the resin code numbering system to define the different types of plastics on the market. The different type of plastics are numbered from 1 to 7, and are generally found within or near a set of three “chasing” arrows. These are indications to the consumer to show it’s potential ability to be recycled and for recycler to be sorted with like plastics. The most commonly used plastics fall into the #1 (Polyethylene terephthalate) and #2 (High-density polyethylene) plastic categories, as they are the easiest to recycle and generally all recycling plants can process them.


There are “easy” plastics to recycle and there are the “more difficult”, often because of the type of resin used in the plastic production process.  Bottle caps fall into the #5 plastic category (Polypropylene), a lesser-used plastic and not as many recycling centers accept it as it has a low rate of recyclability. However, because #5 has a similar resin to #2, many centers are finding good reasons to recycle and reuse items made with the once “too difficult” #5 plastic[383].


Recycling bottle caps is an easy way to protect the environment. As most of the caps are currently not being recycled and are discarded into the trash, they can be found littered in rivers, parks, beside highways, and polluting the oceans. Often times birds and small animals mistake the caps for food and ingest them, which can ultimately cause death.


If you’re ready to recycle your bottle caps, here’s how!


  • Simply call your local recycling center and ask them if they accept #5 plastics. If they do, you can put the caps in your curbside recycle bin. If they do not, ask if they know of local center that does.


  • Drop off your caps at your local Aveda store or salon, or get in touch with Aveda’s Cap Collection program. They have programs with over a thousand schools in the US collecting and recycling bottle caps which become new packaging for Aveda products. As of August 2011 their program is at capacity, but if you want to inquire about future enrollment contact Aveda.


  • Support Preserve, a sustainable company who converts #5 plastics into household goods by taking your #5 plastics to a local Whole Foods Market and other select locations participating in the Gimme5 recycling scheme. Available in 38 states by drop-off, otherwise caps can be sent in by mail! For drop-off locations and more information consult Gimme5 Locations[395].

See how the waste from one company becomes the product for another!

Bottle Caps


Sep 2, 2011 1:50pm
Nice! Thanks for this article. No more throwing caps in with the regular trash.
Sep 13, 2011 9:22am
Hooray! I've been meticulously sorting #5 plastic from my trash and recyclables too.
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  1. Lindsey Wilson "Recycling Mysteries: #5 Plastics." Earth 911. 25/05/2009. 31/08/2011 <Web >
  2. Preserve "Gimme 5 Locations." Preserve. 04/11/2010. 01/09/2011 <Web >

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