Yes. The cap is usually made from Polypropylene, a Type 5 plastic, as opposed to most plastic containers made from the Type 1 plastic Polyethylene Terephthalate. Melting both plastics together would result in a nonhomogenous solution and ruin the batch. Caps and shards from caps can jam the machines. Taking the caps off help to dry out the bottle itself, reducing transportation costs by weight, and bottles without caps are easier to crush and bale. There are recycling centers that will take your bottle caps though, so don’t throw them away! You just can’t recycle them on the curb in most places. Also, reuse centers will sometimes take your caps for people to buy cheaply and use in art projects or other creative ventures.
NPR held an interview to answer this question in 2008. According to their expert, the lids of plastic bottles are made of polypropylene (#5 recycling category on the bottom of the bottle). The bottles themselves, however, are made of polyethylene terepthalate, category #1, and much easier to recycle than the caps.
The caps ARE recyclable, but they must be separated from the bottles because they’re made of different materials. Some places do not accept #5 plastic because it’s harder to crush and recycle. However, according to Earth911.com, if your curbside or drop-off recyclery doesn’t accept #5, some companies will. These include Aveda and Whole Foods, so check out your local options.
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