While soda and water bottles are usually made from type 1 plastic, bottle caps tend to be made from type 5. As you know from reading our Re-Using Plastic Type 5 Containers (Polypropylene) article, this type of plastic is one of the hardest to recycle. Your city, municipality, or county decides what material is collected for recycling based on whether there is a market for it. So while plastic bottle caps can be recycled and made into garden rakes, brooms, and ice scrapers in some bigger cities, smaller community programs often tell you to leave the caps out of your recycling bin.
REUSING/REPURPOSING PLASTIC BOTTLE CAPS
You can save up your plastic bottle caps and take them to a Whole Foods Market or Aveda for recycling, but for those living in remote areas, without access to these locations, there are still plenty of repurposing options available.
- Have you ever had to stop playing your favorite board game because you lost too many of the pieces? Why not use different colored plastic bottle caps as replacement pieces? You could also use a marker or some paint to color clear plastic caps and differentiate players when colored caps aren't available. This is a tried and true method used by grade school teachers who invent a lot of their own classroom board games.
- Help your kids create homemade spinning tops with plastic bottle caps and toothpicks by visiting CreativeJewishMom.com. (photo: CreativeJewishMom.com)
- Make your own 8 x 8-square checkerboard with a piece of cardboard and some red and black markers or paints. Then color 24 plastic bottle caps red and black to make the game pieces.
- Instead of using a twist tie or rubber band to secure a plastic storage bag, use the top of a plastic bottle. Simply cut the neck off the bottle (the rest of the bottle can still be recycled), insert it into a plastic bag, feed the top of the bag through the neck, and turn the cap to secure it. Visit Re-Nest.com for instructional photos. (photo: Re-Nest.com)
- Use a plastic bottle cap to hold small amounts of paint for DIY projects, crafts, or hobbies.
- If you are struggling with an ant infestation, fill plastic bottle caps with small amounts of boric acid or the insecticide of your choice, and leave them in areas where ants seem most prevalent. The insecticide will be taken back to the nest where it will eliminate the queen and solve your ant problem. This is not an advisable pest removal method for those with pets or small children, however.
- If you happen to have more than 100 frosted white bottle caps in your possession, you might consider turning them into a decorative, retro lampshade. Visit the Beach Petals blog for detailed instructions, photos, and a printable template.
- Learn how to make some sophisticated-looking, multidimensional wall art with plastic bottle caps by visiting FaveCrafts.com. (photo: FaveCrafts.com)
- Cats usually tend to favor balls of wadded up paper, bits of garbage, or even lint above the selection of expensive toys available from pet store. Knowing this, you might as well give your own cats the plastic rings and caps from water and soda bottles or milk and juice cartons, and in the process, provide them with hours and hours of cheap, eco-friendly entertainment.
- Making plastic bottle caps into ladybugs or spiders is a fun and easy afternoon craft both you and your kids will enjoy. Simply paint the caps the appropriate colors and then glue pipe cleaners on for legs and antennae. Attach a length of wire to the bottoms of the bugs and stick them in the soil of your houseplants.
- Glue photos inside plastic bottle caps, then attach magnets to the backs, and you'll have yourself a set of homemade, decorative fridge magnets.
As we suggested in our other article about re-using type 5 plastic containers, be sure to check the Preserve Gimme 5 website for local recycling locations, as well as a mailing address for where you can send your type 5 plastics.