plastic bottle cap recycling

Keep Your Caps On!

Many people believe when you recycle anything with a cap, the cap must go into the recycle bin separate from the bottle, jar or carton on which it came. In Northwest Indiana, however, all caps should be placed securely on their containers before placing them in the curbside recycling bin.

That’s right; after you empty and lightly rinse your items, screw caps back onto those water bottles, detergent bottles, orange juice bottles, mayonnaise jars, catsup bottles, chicken broth cartons, milk jugs, etc., then toss the materials into your curbside recycling bin or tote.

Use these same guidelines if you prefer using our drop-off recycling containers. These containers are placed around the county to provide recycling opportunities to people who live in condos and apartments and curbside recyclers who need some extra capacity!

The guideline of keeping your caps and lids on may be different in other parts of the United States, because it is directly dependent upon the technology and capabilities of the facility that actually sorts the recyclables.

The recyclables collected from residents and businesses in Northwest Indiana, including Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties, go to materials recovery facilities, or MRFs, in Illinois. There the recyclables are sorted, baled and shipped to companies that purchase the materials to make other products.

Small items like caps that are not affixed onto their containers are too small to make it through the automated sorting process. Some may fall through the material conveyors and become trash, which has an additional cost to the facility that could be passed onto residents! Some caps may even end up in cans, bottles and glass, causing contamination!

Much like the world, everything changes. This guideline may not have been the guideline 10 years ago, and may not even be the guideline next year. If technology changes or if your waste hauler contracts with a different sorting facility, your recyclables may end up at a different MRF with different capabilities, technology and guidelines.

It’s always good to get an update on what you can and cannot recycle and general guidelines from your solid waste district at least once a year.

If you are saving caps for an organizations collecting bottle caps for benches, bottles can be place in curbside recycling without their caps. If you’re saving caps and have no organization in which to give them, you’ll have to throw the caps in your trash.

If you are an organization in Porter County that is collecting caps for benches, please let us know so we can let others know where to take their cap collections! Call 465-3694 or email

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