Plastic water bottles used by smokejumpers (also known as canteens) have been recycled for years, but not the caps. Recycling facilities do not accept plastic bottle caps and require they be removed from containers, such as milk jugs, plastic beverage bottles, and detergent bottles. Caps are made of different plastic than containers, so the two can’t be processed together. Containers are made mostly of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, and polyethylene terephthalate (indicated by the chasing arrows recycle symbol with a "1" or "2" in the center) while the majority of caps (figure 2) are made from polypropylene (indicated by the chasing arrows recycle symbol with a "5" in the center).
The AFD found a solution for the cap recycling problem. In 2010, sustainable operations consultant Meghan Oswalt began a cap recycling program (figure 3). She discovered that recycling facilities throw out thousands of caps each year because of compatibility issues. Through research she found Aveda (http://www.aveda.com/discover/index.tmpl#section=
be_the_change), a hair care and beauty product company that accepts caps made from polypropylene and repurposes them to package their products. All caps, from the caps of smokejumpers' canteens to the caps of beverages, are recycled and shipped to Aveda using funds (about $5 per pound) acquired by recycling various other items. Aveda doesn't accept plastic, non-screw top lids like yogurt lids and screw-on lids that are not rigid.
For more information about recycling plastic bottle caps, contact:
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