H2R in Action

3 things that aren’t actually recyclable

Labels that cover the entire bottle 

The labels that cover the entire surface of a bottle (referred to in the packaging industry as “full body shrink sleeve labels”) are pretty, but did you know that they may interfere with the recyclability of the container? There are near infrared sortation devices at recycling facilities that get “tricked” by these labels, causing the bottles to get sent into the wrong plastic stream or to the landfill. Additionally, some of the labels can also cause problems for the reprocessors who buy plastic material leaving the recycling facility to make into new products. The good news is that some companies are developing shrink sleeve labels that are designed to ensure the bottle gets properly recycled and do not require removal by the consumer before recycling the bottle. Look for the How2Recycle label to tell you if you have to remove the label to recycle it.

Some pumps and sprayers on bottles

Just because most of a package appears to be recyclable, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all parts of the packaging are recycled. Metal springs are commonly, but not always, found in pumps and sprayers. Unfortunately, metal is detrimental to the plastic recycling stream. For this reason, look for the How2Recycle label to tell you whether you should discard the closure before recycling.

Caps that aren’t replaced onto bottles

Most caps CAN be recycled, but not when they’re separated from the bottle. Bottle caps can easily fall through recycling equipment and get trashed when it’s tossed in the bin by itself. For this reason, How2Recycle almost always encourages consumers to replace small caps and lids before recycling in order to minimize the opportunity of it becoming litter and optimize the opportunity for material recovery. If a How2Recycle label says to Discard Cap, it means there’s something about the cap that renders it non-recyclable and should be put in the trash before you recycle the rest of the container.

Never knew recycling could be complicated? Never fear. Just look for the How2Recycle label for accurate, step by step instructions on how to recycle better.Together, we can increase the quantity and quality of recycled materials.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox
Project Associate

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