A display at the launch of Aveda's Kick the Cap Out of Oceans cap-recycling program
Attention recyclers: Bottle caps are not recycled
Aveda threw a shindig in New York City on Thursday to kick off Fashion Week, as well as formally announce the launch of its cap-recycling program, the first of its kind in the United States. The beauty company discovered that most plastic caps do not get recycled because they're made from polypropylene (more commonly known as #5 plastic). For the virtuous recyclers among us, this came as a rude shock, one that even the appearance of Project Runway's Christian Siriano couldn't trump.
When we spoke to John Delfausse, vice president of global package development at Estee Lauder Corporate Packaging, who spearheaded the project, he told us that most recycling plants have machines that slice off the tops of polyethylene terephthalate (PET; #1) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE; #2) bottles and then discard the offending caps. Alternatively, he said, the recycler would grind up the plastic altogether and then skim the lighter (and more commercially valuable) PET and HDPE plastic away from the heavier polypropylene, which is then consigned to Ye Olde Landfill.
Polypropylene bottle caps are rarely recycled by municipal programs
Bottle caps foul up our oceans
More worrying, however, is the fact that these caps are often thoughtlessly cast aside as litter and end up polluting our rivers and oceans, where birds and other marine creatures mistake them for food because of their enticing colors.
Aveda's pilot caps-recycling program enlisted the help of the company's salons and stores, as well as schools across the nation, to collect more than 50,000 pounds of water, soda, detergent, and shampoo polypropylene caps. The collected caps were then sent to a plastics recycler to see if they could be ground up and remolded into new caps.
The result? Aveda's Limited Edition Vintage Clove Shampoo, which debuts on Sept 14, 2008, just in time for the company's 30th anniversary, will come topped with 100 percent post-consumer recycled caps, along with bottles made from at least 95 percent post-consumer recycled HDPE--the highest percentage recycled content in colored bottle containers in the beauty industry thus far.
Schoolchildren who participated in Aveda's pilot cap-collection program commend the company for its commitment to the environment
How to help
Visit Aveda.com to find a salon or store where you can drop off your bottle caps. The Aveda Bottle Cap Collection program accepts rigid plastic caps from soda, juice, shampoo, and laundry-detergent containers, as well as other flip-top caps. Says Aveda, "If you can bend or break the lid with your bare hands or it's made from metal, it does not meet the rigid plastic definition and cannot be used to make new Aveda caps."
You can also find polypropylene recyclers in your neighborhood by punching in your zip code at Earth911.org.
More on Aveda
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Aveda's "Envirometal" Compact Collection
Four Aveda Ingredients Get Cradle to Cradle Certification
Aveda: Soil to Bottle
Aveda's Environmental Awards
Aveda Celebrates Earth Month
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