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Do You Leave Caps on Bottles for Recycling?

August 29, 2021
Do You Leave Caps on Bottles for Recycling?

Do you leave caps on bottles for recycling? Are you supposed to leave lids on? Are the caps of water bottles even recyclable? All good questions!

It’s funny that something as simple as a bottle cap can trip up household recyclers and even interfere with the recycling process. Not to worry; the rubbish removal team at Ridly are here to answer all your recycling questions and clear up any misconceptions you might have regarding rubbish disposal.

So, let’s delve straight in to how to recycle bottles: lids on or off?

Do You Leave Caps on Bottles for Recycling?

When disposing of rubbish, everyone has their own unique ways of doing things. Some will rinse and dispose of their bottles in the appropriate bins; some are fanatic about removing the bottle tops for separate disposal, while others throw their rubbish in the closest bin. Sadly, incorrect disposal of bottle tops can have far-reaching consequences. Bottle caps can travel far and wide are some of the most common rubbish items found on beaches worldwide.

When it comes to disposing of our rubbish, it is essential to know what can and cannot be recycled. Using more recyclable materials and correctly disposing of them to be reused reduces the amount of new material and energy needed to create new products. Improved recycling practices are also beneficial to the environment, as a reduced need for new materials places less strain on natural habitats and resources.

Can You Leave Caps on Bottles When Recycling?

Can you leave bottle caps on when recycling?

The advice with plastic bottle tops is that unless your council says otherwise, plastic tops should be removed from bottles and placed into the garbage.

After removing the top, the bottle can be recycled in the bin as usual.

The good news is that many councils have improved their recycling processes and can accommodate bottle caps as part of the materials they accept. There are even state-wide initiatives that happily take bottles and bottle caps, even rewarding you for your recycling!

Some councils do not accept bottle caps due to a few issues. Firstly, many people who do not remove the bottle tops fail to drain any remaining liquid inside the bottle. The residual liquid left in the bottle will result in it being heavier than usual, meaning that the automatic recycling machines cannot process the plastic properly.

The second reason is that leaving the top on the bottle will also trap air inside it. During the recycling process, the bottles are compressed into large cubes known as 'bales'. If the bottles are baled together in the sorting process and placed under pressure with air trapped inside, they can pop and fall out of the bale. When this occurs, it requires the bottles to be resorted and baled back together, using more energy than necessary.

Additionally, bottle caps are generally made from different materials that do not have the same melting points as the bottle. This interferes with the recycling process and sorting of plastics based on their chemical composition.

Are the Caps of Water Bottles Recyclable?

If you wish to recycle bottle tops, such as the caps on water bottles or other drinks, it is possible. First, you need to take the cap off, empty any excess liquid, and clean out any residue. After this, squeeze all the air out of the bottle, then put the lid back on. With the air and liquid removed, the recycling machines will be able to process the bottles by weight, and the bottles will not pop-under pressure when baled.  

If this sounds like too much for you, remove the lid and place it in your rubbish bin and the bottle in the recycling bin. These lids need to go into the rubbish bin, as most councils find dirty bottles and caps only contaminate the recycling process. Other councils, such as in the Hunter NSW region, accept them. So, be sure to check the guidelines of your local government area when asking yourself, “are the caps of water bottles recyclable?”.

However, bottle caps come in various materials and sizes, so naturally, each has different considerations. So, the answer to, “Do you leave caps on bottles for recycling?” also depends on what material the cap is made from.

Do You Leave Lids on When Recycling Glass Jars?

Metal tops are primarily fitted on glass bottles such as jam or pasta sauce jars and other liquid containers. Before you recycle these bottle tops, it is essential to check that they are made of steel and can be recycled. Other than checking the "label"s of these leads, the second easiest way to check is with a magnet. All you need to do is hold the metal close to the magnet, and they should attract. It might be plastic or something else and should be disposed of appropriately if it doesn't. 

To dispose of the glass bottle, all you need to do is empty any remaining liquid and place it in your recycling bin.

Do You Leave Caps on Bottles for Recycling if They Are Metal?

Due to their small size, metal bottle tops cannot go directly into the bin. These tops are so small that they fall through the sorting machines if disposed of individually. The best way to ensure your bottle tops are recycled correctly is to collect them in an empty steel can. Once the can has begun to fill up, crimp the top closed so the tops can’t fall out. After this, you can put the can in your recycling bin. When it arrives at the recycling centre, the can will be picked up and placed into a collection basket and melted down with the metal tops inside it.

How to recycle metal bottle caps

Do You Leave Lids on When Recycling

For more information on the question of “Do you leave lids on when recycling?”. We covered recycling metal materials and small lids in our article: Can You Recycle Tin Cans?

Does My Council Want Lids On Or Off When Recycling?

In Sydney and around Australia, each council is responsible for its waste collection. 

For example, residents can recycle lids on plastic and glass containers in the Inner West, Randwick, Camden, and the Hills councils. In Ku-ring-gai, residents are required to remove the caps. Some councils also have different specifications for recycling practices depending on the size of the lid. For further information, consult your local council website.

The Benefits of Recycling

By choosing to be informed and responsibly dispose of and recycle household items, you are doing your bit to make a positive difference. Here are some of the benefits of implementing these practices with your household waste:

Benefits of recycling
  • Conserving Natural Resources

"Do you leave caps on bottles for recycling?" may seem like a trivial question, but asking the right questions is an essential step towards conserving our natural resources.

The more reusable and recyclable materials we use, the less strain we place on our environment and natural resources. Using recyclable materials for manufacturing requires less energy than sourcing virgin material, protecting the natural environment, and improving the lives and habitats of people and animals. 

  • Reducing Waste in Landfills

Slowly, more and more products are being developed with sustainable materials and circular economies in mind. Unfortunately, we still see far too many materials and products end up in a landfill. While the design of many products is improving, many people still unknowingly send their recyclable items to landfills. Educating yourself about what can and cannot be recycled and choosing more sustainable products reduces the amount of waste going into landfills. The less waste we dump into our landfills, the less risk we have of gases, toxic chemicals, and other hazardous waste leaking into our natural environment. 

  • Recycling Saves You Money!

As recycling practices improve and manufacturers can repurpose materials more efficiently, you may notice your monthly bills going down. Manufacturers of various products such as packaging use recycled materials, which reduces the amount of raw material being used and overall production and retail costs.

Not only does it reduce your costs, but recycling could also see you earning money using the NSW Government return and earn system. NSW government return and earn collection points also accept plastic and glass bottles.

Do you leave caps on bottles for recycling at these points? You sure do. All you need to do is make sure the bottle is empty, you can leave the bottle top attached, and the collection point will accept the bottle and cap together

Talk to the Experts in Recycling and Rubbish Disposal

Still unsure if you should leave caps on bottles when recycling or have any other rubbish disposal conundrums? Well, professional rubbish removal services like Ridly Rubbish Removal are available to businesses and residents to help with all their recycling and rubbish disposal needs. 

Whether it be for bottle caps, household rubbish removal, green waste disposal or a same day rubbish collection, we operate all over Sydney and provide our customers with the peace of mind that their rubbish has been conveniently removed and disposed of in the most sustainable way possible. If you would like more information on how our experts can assist you with your rubbish removal needs, all you need to do is give our friendly team a call on 0491 181 130.


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