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by Dawn Quirk

Here at Tufts, everyone is really getting good about recycling. Whether it’s been spurred on by RecycleMania, by a newfound eco-conscience, or by the realization that “matter can neither be created nor destroyed” has real world applications outside the science classroom, the rate of recycling at Tufts is appreciated. It seems we’re doing all we can to help the environment, but what of the recycling companies we trust to do all they can? Well, it turns out we might have to take that extra step to make up for their slack or lack of altruism regarding plastics recycling. If your local recycling does not accept #5 plastics, that means it doesn’t want any of the tops to your plastic bottles. These tops are made out of a different type of plastic than the bottle itself, and this plastic is much less valuable than PET, the plastic used for the bottles. This less valuable plastic also has a much higher melting temperature than PET (plastic #1), making it much more energy intensive to recycle.

So what can you do?


If your recycling company sorts out #5 plastics:
Unscrew your bottle caps before putting them in your recycling bin so that they do not stay mixed in with the #1 plastics and ruin a batch of melted plastic.

If you know your recycler does not take #5 plastics:
Simply throw these caps in the trash. As a recycling intern, I do not condone this and suggest that you should not either, but it does prevent the caps from ruining #1 plastics.

Find another way to recycle the caps! Companies such as Whole Foods, working with Preserve (in partnership with Brita and Stonyfield Organic), and Aveda will gladly take your #5 plastics in order to recycle them on their own. This way, your bottle tops can live out their days as some lucky person’s razor, measuring cup, or toothbrush, instead of foiling some batch of #1 plastics or languishing in a landfill somewhere.