Recycling Plastic Lids


At my house we don't have a recycling bin. We have a recycling closet with no less than a dozen different categories of items. This is in addition to the small caches of items that I have stashed around the house that are not readily recyclable, but that I'm sure can be diverted from the waste stream if I can just find a creative solution. One of those caches finally made its way out of our house, much to Steve's delight.

Above, Silas is surrounded by two years worth of plastic lids that have been waiting to find new life. Many people just throw lids in their regular plastic recycling, but they shouldn't. There are a number of reasons that they are not accepted: lids are almost always made from a different plastic than the bodies of their containers, causing contamination if they are recycled together; they don't readily compact when batches of plastic are baled; and they easily jam recycling equipment. For these reasons, almost no recyclers accept them mixed in with other plastics. Even if you remove them from their containers and throw them in with the plastics thinking that they might somehow be separated and recycled, they won't. They end up in the landfill either way or our waterways where they are easily mistaken as a tasty treat by sea birds. Not a good thing.

I couldn't handle throwing all of these milk jug, shampoo bottle, and other lids in the trash. So, I started separating them out and keeping them in a bag, certain that a solution would present itself if I just waited long enough. It did.


For awhile now, Aveda has been accepting these rigid, threaded plastic lids, which they recycle into new lids for their haircare products. They've partnered with 1,600 schools around the country to raise awareness and to collect these lids. If your local school doesn't participate, you can also drop them off at Aveda salons, which is what I did.

Some enterprising recyclers have also set up cap recycling programs, such as the Caps Can Do program in Columbus, Ohio. Check with your local recycler to see what they do and don't accept and if they don't accept lids, take them with you to your next hair cut. It seems like such a small gesture, but as you can see in the photo above, just two people go through many, many lids in a short amount of time. In the aggregate, keeping them out of the trash keeps them out of the bellies of turtles and that is a good thing.

16 comments:

  1. I did this too for a while - even collecting my friends caps. Now our local recycling takes #5, which accounted for a lot of my caps. You have saved ALOT of caps!

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  2. That's really interesting and disheartening that people thought they were recycling lids & tops but ended up in a landfill anyway. I'm going to start saving the tops till I figure out where they should go. Thanks for the info.

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  3. Thanks for sharing that! I had no idea that someone did recycle them and we (sadly) have been throwing them away.

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  4. Awesome! And they make for such a fun photo, too! ;-)

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  5. great info! thanks for posting this!

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  6. Great info! Which salon did you take them to? -Karla D.

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  7. so glad to read this- I had no idea- That looks like a fun pile of lids for S!

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  8. I enjoy the fact that Silas is in on the sorting those caps for you ;)

    I showed Chase the pictures of them and he whimpered and listed off a half dozen different things he'd do with them (he's real big on reusing items for his art!). I wasn't aware that lids should not be recycled with bottles (oops) but will do so now!

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  9. Love this! We are BEYOND blessed to live in an area where the local recycling company is about as advanced as it gets. They accept ALL plastics, glass, paper, and metals, and they have an incredibly sophisticated new laser based sorting system (followed by the more traditional magnet and manpower varieties) to guarantee that nothing goes to waste. It cost a small fortune in taxpayer dollars, but it's saving SO much landfill space in our community. I've toured the facility twice with environmental science classes at my alma mater, and I was blown away. And it's so easy throwing everything recyclable into one giant bin and letting the recycling company do the rest of the work. Well, except metals. My MIL owns a scrap metal recycling company, and we can earn some side money by bringing our recyclable metals to her.

    So glad to see you found a use for all those lids! And major kudos to you for actually holding onto them as long as you did.

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  10. Our recycling center does not accept lids....yet. I was super excited when they started to accept mixed paper!!! Now instead of going monthly I go weekly because of the mixed paper I accumulate.

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  11. I had no idea - I was tossing mine in with our recycling, but I will check it out before I do it again. Thanks for the information and eye-catching reminder of what we generate. Looks like Silas had fun helping you get them together!
    Christina G

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  12. Very brilliant idea! I am impressed on how you thought of these initiatives. In your own little way, that would significantly help our environment.

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  13. so cool! thanks so much for sharing this info. i HATE throwing the lids into the trash and thanks to you, i will start collecting them now to take to the aveda salon. :)

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  14. thought of you when I saw this:

    http://www.thecraftycrow.net/2011/07/recycled_plastic_lid_mosaic_art_and_craft.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FiTVx+%28The+Crafty+Crow%29

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  15. @Karla: I took them to Twin Image on Benton St., although I'm sure other Aveda salons in the area will take them too!

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  16. @Ren: Those mosaics are so lovely!

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