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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Cap On? Cap Off? Recycling Bottles is Confusing

Uploaded: Jun 14, 2019

Befuddling Recycling Conundrum….

“Little plastics” have been in the news a lot lately, things like straws, pens, and coffee pods, which are evading our recycling systems and causing problems just because of their size. One of the biggest contributors is the bottle top, which makes the list of the Top Five Items most commonly found on beach cleanups world-wide.

graphic from Project Aware

I get it’s best to leave a plastic cap on a plastic water bottle, but what about a plastic top on a glass bottle? What about these?





Cap on? Cap off?

Today’s Homework
- Call your state representative about SB54 / AB1080

Food Partiers! A bill is making its way through the California legislature to dramatically reduce the amount of single-use plastic. SB54/AB1080, or the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act will require single-use materials to be recyclable or compostable by 2030.

SB54/AB1080 is the most comprehensive and bold action yet to tackle plastic pollution in California, and a chance to lead the way towards plastic-free coastlines. Please contact your CA state legislators today and urge support of SB54/AB1080.


What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by WilliamR, a resident of another community,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 9:26 am

I read somewhere that the plastic bottle tops (water and soda bottles, etc.) are a different material than the bottles themselves, and not necessarily recyclable.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 9:44 am

WilliamR, Right, so my understanding now is that we leave on all caps, no matter the material, because it's better for the system. Said another way, leave metal top on glass bottle, bottle gets crushed and top gets ushered to some other place in recycling system. Or do we throw the top in the garbage? I really don't know.


 +   24 people like this
Posted by Reader X, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 10:46 am

The best course of action would be to ask your waste processing company.

Here is what Recology (the provider that handles garbage and recycling for my community) says in their online FAQ:

"Can I leave the lids on bottles when I put them in the recycling carts or bins?

Yes, feel free to leave the lids on bottles when recycling them. Once sent to the appropriate recycling vendors, the different plastics are separated using advanced machinery."

Source: Recology website

Web Link

Your mileage may vary if your particular sanitation provider has a different policy.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 11:38 am

We will very soon need to have a college degree in recycling to know how to deal with what we don't want to keep.

It was once the case that every plastic item had a code symbol molded into the product to show how it could be recycled. Now these don't work universally as every jurisdiction has its own rules.

It is getting beyond funny.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 11:41 am

Here's the chart, dated 2009. Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 11:43 am

Here's the link if it doesn't work. Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Thanks for the Cheat Sheet Resident, but the bottle top problem is not about mixing different types of plastic. It's about small items clogging / messing up the system just because of their small size. It appears they are too small to recycle with current day sorting machines


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Reader X, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 12:19 pm

You're over thinking this. I leave the tops on the containers per the processor's advice. They will handle it.

I've followed their advice. It's not like they're going to tell the public to do something that they can't handle.

Now if somehow a particular recycling vendor can't handle small caps (which have existed for decades), that's a separate issue that I can't control individually.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Reader X, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jun 14, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Let's be real. Not everyone who recycles every single item is a resident of that community and has studied the company's website.

Let's take Mountain View as an example. There are people from all over the Bay Area who come here every morning to flip burgers, change hotel linens, erect buildings, maintain gardens, write software, whatever. Not everyone knows the details of Recology's advice.

Recology has to deal with all of these users, whether or not they are doing things 100% correctly 100% of the time.

Heck, there are people who throw trash into the compost bin in my complex. Language comprehension issues? Laziness? Ignorance? Who knows? All I know is that Recology still has to deal with these issues.

Follow your sanitation service provider's advice to the best of your ability. It would be nice if your neighbors did the same but it's unrealistic to expect 100% compliance is such matters.

We have to believe that companies like Recology have forecasted for such contingencies.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by J, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jun 15, 2019 at 1:20 am

I end up collecting a pile of metal bottle caps from beer/cider bottles because they definitely aren't going to stay on after they've been opened. Supposedly they're recyclable.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by resident, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jun 16, 2019 at 12:43 pm

It is really a shame that different cities in the Bay Area have different recycling rules. That is so confusing for consumers and makes articles like this one even more confusing since the article never mentions which cities it is talking about.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jun 16, 2019 at 3:20 pm

I agree resident - it is frustrating that cities have different rules. This piece isn't about place though - all recycling will probably benefit with the answer because all recycling systems must have a similar problem. Cap on? Cap off?


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 17, 2019 at 8:25 am

The nitpicky obsession over recycling and full-blown Crusade against Plastic has thrown objectivity out the window. I wonder what it is that drives Palo Altans to engage in such constant and extreme virtue signaling. "Zero waste" is a myth. As long as we live abundant lives we will always generate more waste.
The new ordinances won't have any impact on worldwide pollution. Please observe the big picture and stop with this myopia.


 +   17 people like this
Posted by Hey Grumpy, a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills,
on Jun 17, 2019 at 8:35 am

Hey Grumpy, I mean Resident, the nitpicky obsession about throwing water on positive, authentic questions has thrown objectivity out the window.

I wonder what drives such constant negative attitudes and thinking?

If you are feeling disempowered, OK, but no one else wants to hear about it over and over.

Suggestion: start your own blog; title it something like "I'm in A Bad Mood, How About You?" and complain all you want.




 +   6 people like this
Posted by why the topic if no answer?, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 17, 2019 at 8:50 am

> Cap on? Cap off?

Decision?


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 17, 2019 at 8:55 am

@"Hey Grumpy"
Woah, did I get under your skin?
I'm entitled to my opinion. I believe in it fiercely. Many people agree with me that the local war on plastic is a hoax but are afraid to speak out. The alternatives to plastic have their own environmental impact but people are so blinded by the trendy plastic-hate that they're not getting the full story.
Also, please don't make substance-free posts that are merely a personal attack. Learn some basic internet ettiquete.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: other,
on Jun 17, 2019 at 9:07 am

Actually resident I support Hey Grumpy. Opinions matter, but substance-free complaining about environmental concern doesn't. If you don't like how I write, or can't feel compassion for environmental concerns such as this, don't read me. This is The Food Party! We are here to have a good time. I mean that. I want to have a good time at The Food Party! I care about this issue, you don't, no worries. I really still want an answer and will try to get it. There will be many more posts, just like this. Let's leave it at that and recognize this is not the blog for you.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 17, 2019 at 10:22 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

We used to drop off our recyclable items to the Mountain View Recycling Center. It was a lot of work and effort; however, it felt nice to know that all such items were headed for a landfill.

However, we noticed how the rules began to change at that recycling center:

- A 50-item cap on the number of items that can have the CRV refunded. After that, everything would be weighed.
- Shortly thereafter, visitors had to choose whether to weigh or count items (still with the 50-item limit).
- Some time after that, we were instructed to remove both caps and soda can tabs prior to weighing them.

While we weren't necessarily dropping off the items for return of our CRV deposits, I thought that all of these rules were counterproductive. It seemed like the new rules discouraged such recycling.

Why would anyone drop off 50 items? That would only refund a 5-cent or 10-cent CRV fee -- no more than $5 total. That is a lot of time and effort (and even gas) for "saving" returning a total of 50 cans or bottles.

Then, the idea of having to remove the caps from plastic bottles or tabs from cans seems like even more effort -- especially if the goal is to keep those items from the landfills or oceans.

The strangest thing was that the employees at the recycling center would actually place the removed caps and tabs (which people were doing on-site) in the same large containers as the items from which they were removed.

When we asked about the changes in guidelines, we were told that they came from the state. I don't know if this was what they (the employees there) were told or if it was a misunderstanding from poor employee training.

I think that it would be helpful for the state to mandate a uniform set of requirements if a recycling center is to receive a license for operation. In fact, I think that large recycling corporations should be required to invest in equipment that can recycle things like plastic straws and plastic bags.

I mentioned in a comment to a previous article that things like plastic bags (#4 plastics) and straws (#5 plastics) can be easily recycled. The problem is that the recycling centers don't want to invest in the equipment to do so. Yet, it seems like it would better solve the issue than simply banning such items altogether in certain municipalities or even states.

Restaurants could be required to instruct their bus service and dishwashers to recycle items like straws. Grocery stores could be required to include plastic bag recycling containers on their premises. Oddly enough, even styrofoam (#6 plastic) can be recycled if the recycling centers and cities invested in the equipment to do so.

I cited the studies by the American Chemical Society -- the professional society for chemical engineering (which has an environmental mission in their organization's mission statement) -- over the issues and how such items could be recycled. The strange thing is that I was accused by a few armchair environmentalists of not wanting to "do your part" or of simply "cutting and pasting" from an anti-environmentalism website. Ugh.

The goal should be to encourage as much recycling as possible. However, when you remove the financial incentive for many people as well as add a time/effort burden, then you've made recycling feel like a chore rather than a small part of helping the world.

Unfortunately, politicians often work alongside various corporate sectors. Instead of coming up with viable solutions that might truly make recycling easier and more feasible, they take the recycling industry's "zero-cost" approach. Unfortunately, that "zero-cost" translates to zero cost to them but added time, effort and, yes, financial cost to consumers and virtually every other industry.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 17, 2019 at 10:24 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

*were not headed to a landfill

I apologize for the typo in the second sentence of my previous post.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Trick Or Treat, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Jun 17, 2019 at 2:51 pm

We save our bottle caps & give them out for Halloween. I tell the children they are worth a quarter. Dumb kids.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by why the topic if no answer?, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 9:48 am

> the studies by the American Chemical Society ... (which has an environmental mission in their organization's mission statement)

The American Marketing Society sent a note, it appreciates your recognition of their greenwashing the guys who profit from chemical manufacture. Which, considering the client, was an extraordinary reach...

Given their success in snookering folks, their next leap of faith is to market cancer-causing roundup as 'organic'. Stay tuned!


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 10:27 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ why the topic - I think that you misunderstand what science and engineering professional societies are. Like all credible academic professional societies, they aren't an industry lobby or beholden to industry lobbyists.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by why the topic if no answer?, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 10:41 am

Yes, I can read wiki as well as you, thanks. Even without such, one can easily differentiate the American Chemical Society from the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and the American Chemistry Council.

Nonetheless, I'm just not a fan of gulping koolaid.

Cheers.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 10:48 am

@why... 'organic' puts the O in VOC.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 11:06 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ why the topic - Do you accuse everyone that you disagree with of "drinking Kool-Aid." Is this similar to the "you just don't get it" fallacy?

I am not a member of the American Chemical Society. I am obviously not in contact with them either. My husband is an engineer -- but he is a member of IEEE.

The point of my comment was not to debate the credibility of the American Chemical Society. It was to point out facts that many scientists and environmentalists agree upon.

Which facts? I am primarily pointing out that many types of the most egregious plastics can be recycled. Unfortunately, most companies in the profitable recycle industry doesn't want to invest in the equipment to do it. They have successfully lobbied politicians to take the "zero-cost" approach.

Even many environmentalist organizations have pointed out these facts. Instead of lobbying to push the recycling businesses to broaden their scope to include such items (if they want a license in the state), they've simply taken the "ban" approach.

It is disheartening that some individuals turn away from discussing facts and become accusatory out of what they believe to be loyalty to a cause. Consequently, people cannot work together to find solutions when they see everything through an "us versus them" lens.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by why the topic if no answer?, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 11:49 am

I was unaware that the American Chemical Society, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and the American Chemistry Councils are such a touchy subject. It appears some local peeps absolutely took 'plastics' as the core message of "The Graduate."

We both agree straws can potentially be recycled (per the American Chemical Society!) but at a much greater cost. Unless you are proposing socialism, forcing various private companies to use their profits for the greater societal good, it's just not realistic. Ban 'em.

So, back to topic: what's the decision on caps?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Chip, a resident of Professorville,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Palo Alto could make a detailed list of what is or is not recyclable and compostable & put it online with the other utility information. Recology has a very clear chart. Does anyone know with whom PA subcontracts?

What PA does have online, interestingly, is notification of a 35% discount on any utility fees for all retired City workers & any current workers who've been on the job for 42+ years. Web Link


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ why the topic - It isn't a "touchy" subject to me. You simply went off on a tangent based upon your own undefined opinions about them. By doing so, you avoided the underlying reason that I brought them up in the first place.

I'm not sure how that fits into the story of The Graduate because I have never watched that movie (a decade or two before my time). My husband does like Simon and Garfunkel though.

I don't think that we agree about straws though. My point is that straws can be readily recycled if the recycling industry was required to invest in the equipment to do so. The same is true of plastic bags and even Styrofoam.

However, my point is that the recycling industry has lobbied the state's politicians and even environmentalists to ignore this in favor of the state adopting a "zero-cost" (i.e., just "ban" them) approach to combat the issues posed by such things (and whereas "zero-cost" only applies to the recycling companies) versus a solution that would be less restrictive to residents.

My solution would be for the state to mandate such equipment (or even acceptance of such items) if those companies want to have a license to continue making profits from recycling. Apparently, the state already has quite a bit of regulation over those industries (including the puzzling fact that you must show a government photo identification card when you drop off cans and bottles to be recycled).

If a corporation (like Recology or Waste Management) wants a license to operate in the state, why not require that they have the equipment to recycle #4, #5 and #6 plastics? This will keep even more things out of the landfills, streams, bays and oceans. It would allow the municipalities to require restaurants and businesses to recycle such items too.

So, instead of wide and restrictive bans on such items, the solution would be to recycle them. The alternative solutions resulting from bans are already proving to be more ecologically damaging than such an alternate solution. Of course, the initial investment in the equipment is what those companies want to avoid.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 1:20 pm

@Nayali, I'm not sure Recology et al should be required to make those investments. I'd put it on the original producers of straws, and their distributors and retailers, allowing the cost to be passed on as part of the purchase price. By the time recyclers get the product, that horse is out of the barn. But then we're faced with the inevitable problem that only rich people will be able to afford straws. The government will have to create a below-market-rate straw program funded by higher taxes.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ musical - You raise a good point. However, recycling is a highly-profitable industry. PBS's FRONTLINE did a program about it once -- and indicated that most of the "products" are sold and eventually makes its way to China. The equipment requirement would ensure that the industry is environmentally-driven rather than strictly profit-driven. It can even transition into a private or public utility (like PG&E).

It's possible to require the plastic producers to bear some of that cost (maybe by a special tax). That money could help subsidize the initial cost to the recycling industry companies who will have to invest in those machines.

My thought is that a restaurant or business could offer plastic straws. However, the bus service workers, dishwashers or janitors would place the straws into proper bins (which prevent the straws from leaking out) that will be picked up by recycling trucks (as is currently the practice). Every business that offers plastic bags would be required to have collection stations to bring your old bags. Styrofoam is still a problem because it is used in packaging. Such materials could then be picked up by recycling companies.

Right now, only a few municipalities or states are banning plastic straws. However, plastic straws as well as the types of plastic from plastic bags and Styrofoam are still a problem. There is no method of current method of protecting the environment from them without forcing the recycling companies to invest in the apparatuses to recycle them. The burden would fall upon those companies rather than the fickle nature of John Q. Public.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by why the topic if no answer?, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 2:12 pm

> It isn't a "touchy" subject to me. You simply went off on a tangent...

Your word count and your constant return off-the-topic suggest otherwise.

Forcing more regulation on industry is a Big Government solution:
- forcing companies to invest in unprofitable equipment and process (for straws!)
- forcing small business to sort straws in the dish pit of restaurants!


Back to topic: what's the call on caps? On or off?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 2:20 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ why the topic - My words might be long but at least they didn't digress. You went off on a tangent about your own assumptions about an engineering professional society.

As for "big government:" I think that regulating the handful of companies in the "recycle industry" would still be better than regulating and restricting the behavior of millions of residents. The recycling industry players would simply need to buy the equipment to recycle types 4, 5 and 6 plastics. The restaurants would simply need to recycle straws (not too "restrictive" since they are already forced to recycle anyway).


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by PEG, a resident of North Whisman,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 2:36 pm

PEG is a registered user.

Beyond the caps on/off problem...In Mountain View we cannot recycle plastic clam-shells even if they are cut apart or the black plastic containers that produce comes in such as mushrooms in stores like Wholefoods and TJ's(the clam-shells are labeled as a 1) because of some contract Recology has with it's recycle partners. We have no choice but to place them in our garbage bins. Mountain View and Palo Alto have different as to what can be recycled
as do most Peninsula and Silicon Valley towns. This is absurd and on it goes.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by why the topic if no answer?, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 3:15 pm

You keep coming back to tangents, rather than the topic (gosh - it's the other person!)

Occams razor: simplest explanation/reductionism (ban straws)
Trump's razor: stupidest explanation/option (force small businesses to SORT INDIVIDUAL STRAWS, force other businesses to buy sorting equipment)

Let's say we force all these poor small businesses to sort their straws, and now we have bales of sorted straws (imagine that, seriously.) What smelter wants a couple bales of sorted straws?!?

Ban 'em.


@waste of time - I agree. OP danced around it.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ why the topic - Why does it have to be so personal with your attacks? You've diverged from the topic to a strange tangent about the American Chemical Society (and insinuating that they are some sort of lobby for the plastics industry) and now you've introduced a President Trump rabbit trail into this discussion.

I'd rather have a restaurant "sort" straws (seriously -- it only takes a moment to place them in a recycle container) to be picked up by a recycle center (that would make money from recycling them) than have a group of politicians cater to the whim's of recycle industry lobbyists and and simply take that "ban everything that we don't want to recycle" approach. They are simply looking after their own profit margins rather than the environment. The margins are thinner on certain items; therefore, they prefer bans over requirements to include those items in order to get a license.

My point is that straws, caps and soda tabs are being refused by some recycling companies because those companies don't want to invest in equipment to recycle them. So, they turn them away (and even require recyclers to remove the tabs and caps).

If there was uniform rules required for licenses, then it would be easier to recycle these things. We wouldn't show up to a recycle center with the fear of being turned away.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by why the topic if no answer?, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 4:16 pm

The last two times your chem guys were brought up, it was by you. Project much?

Americans use 500 million plastic straws per day, supposedly. How much would they have to pay Nayeli to go thru the Burger King trash, find and sort the straws (and give them a rinse while you are at it,) and put in a container?

"seriously -- it only takes a moment to place them in a recycle container"

Too funny. Quite humorous thoughts!

Quite the Big Government solution! And raising consumer prices while you are at it. We can call it the Nayeli Tax.


Back to topic: what's the call on caps - on or off? What's the call, folks?


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 5:32 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ what the topic - I wrote, "I cited the studies by the American Chemical Society -- the professional society for chemical engineering (which has an environmental mission in their organization's mission statement) -- over the issues and how such items could be recycled."

You digressed into all kinds of rabbit trails. The only thing that you didn't discuss was what the ACS said about the potential to recycle such plastics.

You're a very mean person. Since you're angry that Laura Stec, the blog writer, didn't "answer the question" (which I thought was obviously a rhetorical question about the confusion with recycling such things), you might want to simply move along.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by why the topic if no answer?, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 6:50 pm

Again, you bring up the chem guys and somehow I'm responsible for a trail of rabbits?

> The only thing that you didn't discuss was what the ACS said about the potential to recycle such plastics

Huh? I've addressed multiple times the absurdity of recycling straws. And for your benefit, I did so in a rather absurd fashion, if I do say so myself.... ;-)

- "How much would they have to pay Nayeli to go thru the Burger King trash, find and sort the straws (and give them a rinse while you are at it,) and put in a container?"

- And in doing so, the payment for new recycling machinery would be funded by The Nayeli Tax (on poor consumers.)


As I stated: Forcing more regulation on industry is a Big Government solution:
- forcing companies to invest in unprofitable equipment and process (for straws!)
- forcing small business to sort straws in the dish pit of restaurants!


Ban 'em.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Maury, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jun 18, 2019 at 7:54 pm

You're making too much sense, Nayeili. That might not go over well around here.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Abitarian, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 20, 2019 at 7:01 am

In the city of Palo Alto, we are instructed to leave the caps on bottles, see Web Link

This applies to single family homes and multi-unit buildings.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Jun 20, 2019 at 7:28 am

Abitarian - thank you! I plan to call around today and check a few others. Appreciate it!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by BP Resident, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jun 21, 2019 at 10:09 am

According to the Association of Plastics Recyclers (Web Link), plastic caps stay on plastic bottles, and anything less than 3" in all dimensions is NOT processable. They grind everything to flakes and sort by density so the different plastic type between cap and container isn't a problem, and with the top on the bottle you don't have the <3" issue. However, metal caps on plastic bottles are a problem. Still no real answer on the plastic/metal caps on glass bottles though... i'd be tempted to leave them on.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by BP Resident, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jun 21, 2019 at 10:15 am

One other point they make in the APR article linked above is that you should not flatten your plastic bottles before putting them in the recycling cart. Flattened items are more likely to get into the paper stream.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Max, a resident of another community,
on Jun 22, 2019 at 10:57 am

First of all anyone reading the article and taking the time to write a comment should be commended for wanting to know what the right thing to do. I am not an expert, but have been interested in recycling for a very long time and read about it whenever I see an interesting topic. I am from a big old city on the east coast and we learned about recycling in elementary school during the late 1960s. I always thought California would still be the leader in recycling compared to the people I grew up with but the apathy and total disregard for the simple recycling rules seems to be universal.
Recology as well as other trash collecting companies, are not really a recyclers. They merely sort the trash from the recyclables and try to find buyers for the items they can. The incentive for them is to sort what they can, sell it, and dispose the rest. They charge us to do this.
Regarding the plastic drinking bottle cap question, most recycling collectors have machines to cut off the top of the bottle. It does not matter if a cap is attached, the whole top section is usually discarded to ensure only the desired plastic is sold. This fetches the highest price from the people who actually do the recycling. The other plastics are sorted to be sold (when it can) for recycling. Often times it is to overseas countries. The market to buy used plastics is small in the US. Unfortunately the market for the sorted plastics is becoming smaller world wide too. It is cheaper and easier to buy the raw material. Most of the reclaimed plastics from the US have in the past been sold to China and some other Asian Pacific countries that would remanufacture it. They have had economies that could benefit. Unfortunately recent news stories have reported that these countries are rejecting many shipments due to the amount of trash that is mixed in with the plastics. They are then stuck with disposing the whole shipment,which can be expensive if done right so it is dumped into the biggest hole they can find (our oceans). US is not the only country that has been doing this. There are stories that there are several rejected shipments that are floating in the Pacific from Australia that are still in containers for over a year because they are not acceptable. Australia is being force to take the shipments back. The US is finding it harder and harder to find plastic remanufactures to buy the plastics so they are treated as waste and often added to the land fills.
China announced at the beginning of this year, they will no longer accept reclaimed paper from the US due to the amount of contamination mixed in. The standard was up to 4%. They want less than 1%. Food waste and other contaminates are to blame. If you want to educate others in your circle, tell them to put pizza boxes and other paper products that have touched food (or even water)in the compost bins.
When I see the crap that is thrown into the recycle bins at work I try to sort it correctly but this is where the problem originates. Everybody needs to do this if recycling is to work. Instead we rely on the people at the reclaiming facilities or in third would countries to go through our trash.
If we want recycling to work, then we need to educate everyone to do it correctly. It is the most economical way and maybe our trash collection bills would go down. If we cannot do this (and many wonder after 50 years of trying), then the reduction (or elimination) of use is the next best option. We cannot keep paying to dump our garage on anyone who will take it or what still happens in remote places when no one is looking. We cannot blame anyone except ourselves. This is why the banning of plastic straws and bags has advanced to the regulated state. Yes we have the technology to recycle them along with the polystyrene (that makes up foam pellets and those clear plastic clamshell containers)but it is not economical to do it. The unwanted products are lightweight and take up a lot of space. Once again it is much cheaper and easier for manufacturers to buy the raw product.
Other disappointing facts I have read, include reclaimed bottles and plastics cannot be reused for food products due to the contamination possibilities. Now, would you want to drink your favorite beverage out of a recycled plastic bottle?
Back to one of the original questions regarding the lids on glass bottles, please remove them. it is hard to remove them in the glass sorting process.
Please pass this on, build on it, or reiterate it to as many people as possible.
Thank you for reading and being concerned.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Mother's Cookies, a resident of Community Center,
on Jun 23, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Nayali and Maury want more Big Government. That's crazy.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by gras, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 25, 2019 at 8:43 pm

big gubmint liberals..... sheesh!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Air Conditioning Clinton Township Michigan, a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres,
on Jun 30, 2019 at 2:27 am

I have visited 1st time your website and I really like all the information that you have put on your blog post. Thanks for putting up great content on your site.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Brit, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jun 30, 2019 at 7:55 am

I remember when our milk was delivered in glass bottles by a milkman driving an electric vehicle and we had to rinse them and put them out each night for the milkman to take the next day.

The point of me mentioning this is that the milk bottles had foil caps which we used to collect and when we had a big bagfull, we donated them to charity, guide dogs for the blind was the one I remember we used. I have no idea what the charities did with the milk bottle tops, but they were very pleased to receive them.



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