Recycling plastic bottle caps and lids

Official Project

The Problem

Most city recycling programs in the U.S accept metal, glass, plastic bottles, and paper. But they do not accept plastic caps or lids. This is mainly because lids are not made of the same material as their plastic container. Plastics can be recycled but mixing two different plastics reduces and contaminates the materials and increases the cost of recycling. Also, when plastic bottles are compressed with lids on them, they do not compact very well and get thrown in the trash. Thus, caps end up in landfill or get washed into storm drains and finally end up in our waterways. In oceans, animals mistake these caps for food and ingest them leading to the loss of marine life. This endangers our animals leading to extinction. To protect the millions of animals dying in our Great Lakes and prevent the filling up of our landfills, we chose recycling of plastic caps as our project. Our research showed Aveda is the only company that recycles plastic bottle caps. The collected caps are sent to plastic recycler to be cleaned, sorted and ground into pellets. Once in the pellet form, they are molded into new plastic caps. The first-ever 100% recycled cap is then delivered to the Aveda manufacturing facility and attached to the Limited Edition Vintage Clove Shampoo bottles. The Vintage Clove Shampoo is purchased by consumers, who then turn in their finished bottle cap and recycle their bottle to begin the plastic recycle again.

Plan of Action

Our team plans to continue collecting caps as an ongoing project. We have made fliers and posters that talked about the importance of recycling and what kind of caps Aveda accepts. They also included why plastics caps should be recycled. The posters and fliers urged people to bring caps from their home for recycling. We talked to the school administrators and convinced them to talk to the kids regarding the recycling program. So far, we have six elementary schools that are involved in the cap recycling program. Every two weeks we go back to the schools and collect the caps for counting. We see that as weeks progress we are collecting more and more caps. Once counted, we take the caps to the Aveda Collection Center that is located in one of the malls in our city. We have also brought awareness by publishing an article in the local newspapers. We were also successful in convincing Wal-Mart to put a bin for collection of caps in their recycling rooms. Studies has shown that one pound of plastic recycled saves 12,000 BTU of heat energy. Thus far, we have accumulated 10 pounds through our recycling efforts and thus have saved 120,000 BTU of heat energy which is equivalent to almost a gallon of gasoline (1gallon of gasoline = 124,000 BTU) and twenty pounds of oil. An average American uses 390,410.96 BTUs of energy per day which is equivalent to recycling 32.53 pounds of plastic. We plan to expand our awareness to neighboring cities by enrolling their schools and friends in the program. We also eventually want to talk to the city recycling offices to enroll in the cap recycling program. That way the whole city will be involved in recycling of the caps the way plastic bottles are recycled now and nothing gets thrown away in the landfills or waterways.

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