Are Beer Bottle Caps Recyclable?

beer bottle tops recyclable

We all like a beer every now and again don’t we? Well, I do at least.

As an eco-conscious person, you’ll be more than aware that the glass bottle that beer temporary lives in is fully recyclable. In fact, glass is a sustainable material that can be endlessly recyclabled and created into new products.

But what about the bottle tops? Are beer bottle caps recyclable too?

What are beer bottle caps made from?

Firstly, we need to know what the bottle caps are made of.

Beer bottle caps are generally made from metal. More specifically, they tend to manufactured using either steel or aluminium. And there’s an easy trick to tell the difference.

If it sticks to a magnet, it will be steel. If not, it’s probably aluminium.

This does make a difference to your recycling efforts as it’s much better idea to recycle the same materials together.

Did you know: the current version of the metal bottle cap used across the world has 21 teeth. This doesn’t make a difference to your recycling though.

metal beer bottle caps

Can you recycle beer bottle tops?

Now we know that most beer bottle tops are made from metal, can these be recycled?

Yes, metal beer bottle tops are highly recyclable.

In fact, it’s never been easy to recycle metal materials than it is today. Just like stainless steel and glass, metals such as aluminium are endlessly recyclable.

After metal has been mined and manufactured into its first product, it can then be recycled down and made into something else continually without losing quality. This is much better for the environment as new metals don’t have to be mined and many of the reprocessing factories can use renewable energy.

How to recycle beer bottle caps?

You now know that beer bottle caps are recyclable.

However, because of their small size, they can often get lost during the recycling process. The same applies to small amounts of tin or aluminium foil. With foil, it’s best to save the little bits up and roll it into the size of a tennis ball, so it doesn’t get lost!

If individual beer bottle caps go undetected by the sorting machine and separators, which is highly possible, the caps may find their way to the landfill pile.  

With bottle tops, a top tip is to collect them in another metal container (aluminium or tin) that’s going into your recycling bin.

For example, a tin of beans or a can of soup. Put your beer bottle caps into the empty tin until it’s about half way full, then squeeze the opening of the tin closed so the bottle tops can’t fall out.

beer bottles with metal caps

The bottle caps, alongside drinks cans, foil trays and other metals are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where they are first sorted (using magnets and separators).

After this, the metals are crushed together to form a big metal bale – a bit like hay bale, but in metal format. This is why it’s ok to put your bottle caps into a tin of beans (for example), as they’ll get crushed down together.

This metal bale is then taken to a reprocessing plant where they are melted down and eventually manufactured into something else.

What else can I do with beer bottle caps?

If you’re of a crafty persuasion, you can use the metal bottle tops to create some artwork or even a functional bit of kit.

For example, metal beer bottle tops with a sheet of glass over the top can create a stunning table – just like the example below at Manchester Airport using Joseph Holt metal bottle tops.

You can use the beer bottle caps to create a wind chime for the garden or even donate to a local school (once washed of course) to use for an art project.

joseph holt beer bottle tops
Source: Joseph Holt Brewery

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