Recycle Your Metal Screw Caps!

What Do We Do With Our Metal Screw Top Caps? Photo © Liesl Clark

If you drink wine, you’ll know the caps I’m talking about. They also come on other glass bottled liquids, are made of aluminum and are never mentioned in municipal recycling lists. What’s a person to do with these things?

Here are 3 options:

1) Recycle Them! According to most wine magazines and green advocates the screw tops can be recycled. Well, not in my neighborhood. And here’s what Seattle’s Ask Evelyn has to say on the matter:

“Put small caps in the garbage. Small lids can jam the machinery at the recycling plant.”

Don’t listen to Evelyn. After a few hours of research, I was able to sample enough municipal sights that do take these small caps (Los Angeles, CA and Boulder, CO for example) but they ask you to NOT screw your metal caps back onto your bottles (same goes for metal lids on glass jars) as they will then need to go to a secondary sorting facility where someone will have to take them off. Metals go in metals, glass in glass.

So, here’s the deal: Metal has value. Save those little caps, no matter where you live, and throw them in your municipal metal recycling bin. If you’ve collected enough of them, I doubt they’d turn your accumulated metal away.

2) Even If Your Recycler Doesn’t Take them, Recycle Them Anyway! Here’s how: If  you can recycle cans, you can recycle these little screw caps. Step on them to squash them and put them inside your can. Fill your can half way with the little caps. Then, close the lid a little so the caps don’t fall out. It’s subterfuge, but it should keep the caps from getting into the equipment and will add them to the recycling mix. These caps are made of aluminum, so if you want to be a purist, you should probably put them inside an aluminum pop can (that you’ll have to open with a can opener). If you’re really cautious, then save them, as I mentioned above, and put them in the scrap metal bin. We have a friend on our island who collects them, along with all aluminum foil, pie plates, aluminum wine cork wrappers, etc. and she delivers this aluminum to a recycler in Seattle who will pay for it!

3) Screw Cap For Your New Water Bottle: Reuse the cap, wine bottle and all by turning the whole thing into your new glass water bottle. It’s chic, cheap, and easy.

That just about sums it up. I had a tough time finding ANY information on these twist caps, except the fact that scientific studies are showing that twist top wine tastes better than natural corked wine (!), but some aged red wines do better with oak cork though they run the risk of cork taint.  Other than the cork vs screw top debate, there’s a hole in the materials culture media about these little caps and we’re happy to fill it as best we can.

Am I missing something really cool (or obvious?) that should be done with metal screw caps? If so, please let me know. What do you do with yours? Let’s talk!

11 thoughts on “Recycle Your Metal Screw Caps!

    • I love this, margaret, and wish we could do the same in the Seattle area. This is my favorite part about Leed’s writeup:

      “All aluminium and glass packaging is 100% recyclable; so every screw top, bottle and jar deposited in a glass bank can be transformed into something new, including more bottles, drink cans, mobile phones and even cars.”

      Right on! This is why I’m on a campaign to tell community members to just recycle them anyway, not loose in their commingled recycling, but in the metal recycling, or trapped inside an aluminum can.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice ideas! My sister is recently trying to reuse or recycle almost everything old and useless at her home. She has lots of those caps in a box and was just thinking what to do with them. Your suggestions seem to be very helpful for her, so I’m showing this post to her right now. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Thanks for your article. If you look inside a wine bottle screw top, at least in the UK, there is a plastic disc at the top which acts as a water-tight seal on the top of the bottle. Strictly speaking this means that the screw top is not 100% aluminium, and metal recyclers might reject them on that basis. When melting down to create new ingots of Alu , ideally you want as few impurities that need to be skimmed off. The good news is with a knife its easy to score a line across the plastic, then prise out the disc , leaving just the alu screw cap. As you say, they crush down very easily


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