5. What do we do with lids?
Why can't they go in the Yellow Bin as they're plastic or metal?
Lids, regardless of the recyclability of the material, are so small or flat, that they aren’t suitable products to go through MRF (materials recovery facility) machinery so they have to go in the RED bin.
Another reason recyclers don’t want plastic lids is because they are made of a different type of plastic than the bottles so they can’t go together to be recycled. Even if there was a market for the lids to be collected separately, they can only be exported in large quantities (i.e. shipping containers) so collection and storage of them until there was enough makes it completely non-profitable to get them recycled, given that any price offered will be negligible.
Ice cream container lids are big what about those?
While these are recyclable, they go in the RED bin because of how flat and light they are. Any flat lid – margarine, ice cream, yogurt are all very hard to successfully separate from the paper and cardboard. Sorting materials from each other happens at high speed to get through all the product being received. In Christchurch the machine sorts about 25 tonnes an hour.
More information on flat lids: https://ecocentral.co.nz/news-and-events/where-do-the-lids-go
I can't get the lid off (my glass soy bottle)?
If you cannot remove the lid and therefore it is not washable, it is better to place it in the RED bin, than to risk contaminating eg paper and cardboard at the plant, by remnants coming out when it is being thrown around, going in the truck and at the plant. The best thing to do is not buy that brand again and look for one that can be removed and the bottle washed and recycled.
What about spray bottle 'lids'?
If they can be removed, remove them and put the ‘lid’ in the RED bin and if the main bottle part is recyclable (1, 2 or 5) pop that in the YELLOW bin. If they are attached, better to put in RED bin if it means you cannot wash the bottle out properly.
#Reuse #Refill! If the bottle is washable and hasn’t had toxic chemicals in it, refill at places like bulk stores, means avoiding having to throw out the lids each time the product runs out.
What about those rings on milk bottles - do I have to remove them too?
The plant does not require that these are removed. A perfect product wouldn’t have any sleeves or rings – if you do remove them make sure they are cut, so they don’t get stuck around birds or any other wildlife.
So generally, Lids go in the RED bin, or even better reused:
Use reusable or refillable containers to reduce lids in the first place: