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Reduce, reuse, recycle but not lids and caps: Why the City of Spokane is urging people to throw them away

The reasons have nothing to do with whether the material is recyclable or not.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The City of Spokane is asking residents to stop putting lids and caps along with their other recyclables.

There are three main reasons why the City doesn't accept them but it doesn't have to do with if the material is recyclable or not, according to the city's Facebook post.

One of the large reasons is safety. The City explains that small plastic caps can be dangerous for workers and equipment when they are being processed and the sorting facility.

Additionally, plastic bottles with caps that get compressed, causes air to get trapped inside the bottle. This results in the cap shooting itself off the bottle creating projectiles that could hurt employees.

Another large reason is contamination in the processing facility. Flat lids, whether they are plastic or metal, tend to be sorted into paper bales.

Because many items are sorted by shape, light, flat lids end up with paper contaminating those bales and lowering their market value.  

The last main reason is that plastic and metal bottle caps end up in the trash anyway. Since they are small, they can fall through the cracks in the processing equipment at the sorting facilities causing them to end up in the trash.

Residents often ask why lids and caps aren’t accepted in Spokane’s recycling program. There are a few reasons for this...

Posted by City of Spokane - Municipal Government on Monday, June 21, 2021

Spokane County residents produce between 800 to 1,300 tons of solid waste each day and divert only 45% of their waste through recycling or composting, according to the City of Spokane's website.

The recyclables collected are taken to a facility owned and operated by the private company, Waste Management, where they are sorted, processed and prepared for marketing.