This Is Why You Should Always Leave the Cap on Plastic Bottles Before You Recycle Them

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If you’ve been recycling for a while, then you may be using an outdated and counterproductive method: removing the caps from plastic bottles.

When recycling programs first began, people were advised to always remove the caps from plastic bottles before tossing them into the bin.

“In the past the plastics recycling industry was not able to effectively recycle bottles with caps on so the message to move the cap was created,” the Association of Plastic Recyclers says on its website.

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Nowadays, though, recycling technology has significantly improved. The cap and bottle are naturally separated from each other during a process called a water bath. If you remove the caps, on the other hand, they may be improperly sorted as unrecyclable waste due to their small size.

So, keep the caps on from now on! Otherwise, you’re essentially throwing those plastic caps into the trash for no reason. And if you care about recycling, you probably don’t want to create a bunch of plastic waste, yeah?

Another recycling mistake to avoid: crushing the plastic bottles first. Crushed bottles are, again, difficult to sort, as they can be mistaken for paper and end up in the wrong place.

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Luckily, correcting these mistakes is easy – it’s just a matter of skipping a couple of steps. Simply dump any leftover liquids in the bottle, rinse clean, replace the cap, and throw it away. Boom!

When in doubt, check your local recycling program’s rules just in case.