Given the increasing pressure to get rid of plastics to save the planet, beer bottle caps which are generally made of metal components, seem to be more or less environmentally friendly. But what are beer bottle caps made of really?
Beer bottle caps are made of metal, either aluminum or steel. While these are recyclable, they go through different recycling processes depending on the metal type. This is why you need to distinguish between aluminum and steel bottle caps.
If you’d love to know more about how you can help protect the environment while enjoying your favorite bottle of beer, the succeeding sections are for you. We’ll deep dive into what beer bottle caps are made of and discuss more about how they can be reused or recycled.
The Components of Beer Bottle Caps
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Most beer bottle caps are made of metal and are composed of either aluminum or steel.
Knowing which material each metal bottle cap is made of is essential for understanding what to do with them after use.
At times, you might get confused when identifying beer bottle cap constituents. This is because, as with most materials, they are a composite of multiple raw components. There’s no need to overthink it, though.
When identifying bottle cap material, simply label them according to the most dominant material you see in the cap.
(Note: Some bottled beer brands are now being sold in plastic bottles with a plastic bottle cap. These brands include Icehouse, Steel Reserve, Miller High Life, Olde English 300, and Magnum. Beer in a plastic bottle is generally reserved for single, 40oz bottles and includes a plastic beer cap).
Beer Bottle Caps Can Be Recyclable
If you are worried about the environmental implications of drinking your favorite beverage, then worry no more. Beer bottle caps are actually recyclable, so they can still be processed and repurposed as long as you sort them before disposal.
How Do I Recycle Beer Bottle Caps?
Sorting is a crucial element in recycling beer bottle tops. Having separate containers for each type of bottle cap makes it possible for recyclers to make appropriate subsequent steps.
To recycle beer bottle caps, make sure to separate them from other waste types and according to their main material constituent. The rest will be up to the recycling facility.
How Do I Sort Beer Bottle Caps?
The tricky part of sorting beer bottle caps is identifying which metal bottle caps are made of aluminum and which ones are made of steel.
To sort beer bottle caps, grab a small magnet and put it close to the cap in question. If the magnet attracts the lid, then its primary material is steel. Otherwise, assuming it is composed of aluminum is the way to go.
When You Don’t Sort Beer Bottle Caps
Due to logistical and technical difficulties, failing to sort your beer bottle caps before disposal could mean that they will not be recycled after all.
That also means that the world has at least one more bottle cap to add to the waste stockpile.
The relatively small size of caps compared to other recyclables makes them typically overlooked. This is especially the case as many recycling facilities now utilize automated processes to sort recyclables according to type.
Sorting these tiny pieces of metal beforehand increases the likelihood that they will undergo appropriate recycling procedures. Regardless of what new materials will be made out of these used bottle caps, the process would directly translate to saving the same amount of metal that would have been mined out and processed.
When we put it this way, saving the environment could actually be as simple as sorting your waste correctly before disposing of them.
Can Beer Bottle Caps Be Reused?
Beer bottle caps can be reused as long as they are still in their original form, such as if they still fit snugly into the glass bottle. Make sure to clean them thoroughly, as sterilization is essential.
Some beer bottle caps are inherently intended for multiple uses. They don’t deform easily, and you can readily reuse them after cleaning.
However, you may need to be more careful when opening your beer bottle in most cases. You’ll have to make sure you’re left with a decent-shaped bottle cap to use again for next time. If you notice that the cap is deformed, you can attempt to bend them back in shape first.
If you succeed, you can proceed with cleaning the caps.
Sterilization is much easier than avoiding cap deformation or putting them back in shape. Mix a small volume of your disinfectant of choice with tap water, and when the cleaning solution is ready, submerge your original bottle cap into it for at least 5 minutes.
Finally, rinse and dry the caps, and they’re good to go.
Can Beer Bottle Caps Be Repurposed?
Beer bottle caps can be repurposed and you can use them for several things other than covering your beer bottle. They are inherently robust, so finding other ways to keep them functional after fulfilling their primary intended use is not difficult.
There is a surprisingly long list of possible craft ideas that utilize used bottle caps, the only limit being your creativity.
Check out this video below showing how someone used beer bottle caps to make a pub table.
Using them as mini-candles is perhaps among the easiest choices, or they can serve as wind chimes. You can repaint them according to your preference or use them as-is before hanging them on your door, as it’s totally up to you.
As long as they suit your place’s overall theme, you can use them as decor however you please.
Why Recycling Beer Bottle Caps Is Important
It may not come as a surprise that up to 2 trillion beer bottles and containers are manufactured each year. This corresponds to an enormous number of bottle caps and a huge deal of manpower, energy, and raw materials consumed over the same period.
This is why recycling bottle caps is critically essential.
Doing so means that all the resources put into creating them are not wasted, and fewer raw materials may be necessary to produce new ones.
When you are up the next day and about to clean up last night’s mess after a fun party at home, remember to put the bottle caps aside and sort them according to their main components. This way, you will have already drank responsibly, but also, in more ways than one.
The world is drowning in plastics and many other waste types. So living sustainably in our little ways is critical to saving the planet. When it comes to waste reduction, paying attention to items we commonly use and consume would be a good place to start.
Beer bottle caps, for instance, can be reused for your homebrew, repurposed as candle holders, or recycled by sorting them into material types.
Knowing which type of bottle cap you have and segregating them accordingly makes for one less wasted cap out of the trillions produced each year. Good job, you!