The guideline applies to all bottles and jars. Plastic cap on a plastic bottle? You can put it back on. Metal cap on a glass bottle? You can put it back on. Click here for more details or see FAQ's below.

April 19, 2018
CAPS ON FAQs provided by CSWD

Why did this policy change?
For a few reasons:
1. The companies that buy bales of plastic bottles from our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) have indicated that they want the caps – the caps are valuable to them.
2. We are trying to standardize the recycling specifications across the state. Casella (which owns & operates VT’s Rutland MRF) will also be spreading the caps on message.
3. Plastic industry groups are promoting this message across the country. Many communities adopted the caps on guideline a while ago.

Is this a requirement now?
The new caps on policy is a guideline, not a requirement or a rule. It’s something that you are now able to do; not something that you now have to do. It’s simply an opportunity to capture another valuable item and recycle it. If a bottle doesn’t have a cap, it can still be recycled. If a cap is not on a bottle, and the cap is smaller than 2 inches in 2 dimensions, it still belongs in the trash.

Will the MRF workers be endangered by caps shooting off?
The MRF manager has indicated that this isn’t a concern. The only time caps are likely to “shoot off” at the MRF is when they are in the baler; when the bottles are being under pressure. At that point they are inside of a chamber, and if a cap pops off, it doesn’t pose a danger to workers.

Do the caps actually stay on the bottle?
Yes! If you look at a bale of plastic bottles at the MRF, you’ll see plenty of bottles in a bale that still have their caps still on.

What about glass bottles?
The guideline applies to all bottles and jars. Plastic cap on a plastic bottle? You can put it back on. Metal cap on a glass bottle? You can put it back on. This is partly to keep the message simple and consistent; but also because the managers who oversee the MRFs in Vermont said that metal caps on glass bottles aren’t a problem for them. The caps will come off when the bottles are smashed; and the cap will either be recovered by magnets, or screened out of the glass stream to prevent contamination.

What about black plastic caps?
As noted in our black plastics blog post, black plastic comprises roughly 0.06% of the stream of recyclables we see at the MRF. Caps made of black-colored plastic are some smallish percentage of all caps. At this time, the minutely tiny fraction of “undesirable” material that may be contained in some types of caps—e.g., those made from black plastic—can be considered allowable contamination when put back on the bottle. This would be akin to the plastic window in an office envelope or pasta box, or the plastic adhered to the opening of some tissue boxes. We don’t want it, but we aren’t going to tell folks they have to remove it.