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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bottle Caps - ON or OFF?????

In a recent article,  Consumers should leave the cap on according to recycling industry, Resource & Recycle reports that the Closure and Container Manufacturers Association and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers are asking consumers to leave "Caps On" when consumers recycle their bottles.

Confusion and inconsistency are a HUGE dilemma in the recycling world and it seems these two organizations are providing more muddle to muddy waters.  First, consumers are educated bottle caps are made of a different type of plastic, so please take off the cap to increase the the value of the PET or other plastic bottles.  Many consumers do their best best to comply.

bottle cap made of  mixed,
unmarked palstic
Now two industry groups are coming forth with a confusing message to consumers that separated bottle caps contain valuable material, so "please keep the caps ON, thank you".

YIKES!  Where is recycling industry integrity with this consumer request?  If there was a miraculous revelation to cap recycling, then setting a new standard in the industry is exciting.  Yet, no revelation seems in sight.  

Gimme 5 Collection Bin
As documented on the Gimme 5 site, Preserve explicitly asks for only caps clearly marked as #5 plastic.  The site explains how unmarked caps many times contain various plastic grades and are contaminants to their production process. The ZWZ Blog post, Gimme 5 Recycling @ Whole Foods, gives details of the program and their informative site.

A simple fact is bottle caps are made of inconsistent, unmarked plastic and do not have distinctive value in the recycling stream. When manufacturers agree upon consistent cap production, there will be a valuable market for caps as long as plastic density is easily determined.

FRUSTRATION:  Why would two industry associations choose to create further consumer confusion prior to industry resolution of effective cap recycling?

Beyond recycling integrity, another key factor emerges:  SAFETY! While touring a MRF - material recovery facility - Chris Moyer, National Restaurant Association ConServe Program Director, personally experienced the safety hazard inherent with "CAP ON" requests.  During the compaction process, a lid exploded from the bottle and nearly imploded into Chris' knee. 

The incident was an "eye opener" for those on the MRF tour.  Recycling concerns must integrate safety at the core of the program and  a "CAP ON" bottle may result in harm during the compaction | baling process.

Consistent consumer education is paramount to creating clean recycling streams. CLEAN, free of contaminants, collection is critical to recycling programs that make good business sense where ALL benefit.  

If you agree with the post's message please contact Resource Recycling, the Closure and Container Manufacturers Association and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers about their request to keep the "CAPS ON."  Thank you for expressing your active voice.

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