How can I reuse or recycle plastic screw-top bottle caps?

water_bottle_cap.jpgWe’ve had an email from Am about bottle caps:

As we have a lot of plastic water bottles, and they are easy enough to recycle/reuse… but what about the screw-on bottle tops?

When they are recycled the council insist the lids are not included…and I hate to waste all those little lids.

I always keep a few spare ones in case I lose/drop-somewhere-rank the lid of a bottle I’m re-using. I’ve also used them (usually in pairs for stability) to add height when a plant pot sits too low in the planter – water bottle caps add about 1cm while milk bottle ones are a little wide and not as tall.

Anyone got any other suggestions?

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118 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle plastic screw-top bottle caps?”

  1. Kelly says:

    it’s better to skip the plastic bottles altogether! why not use a reusable bottle instead? =]

  2. Ash says:

    I always store a number of these. Uses:
    to hold small amounts of glue and cleaning substances when repairing items.
    to place ant or rodent detterent in.
    to fill with sugar and feed the slugs to help attract them away from your fav plants.
    to measure equal quantaties of concentrated liquids
    to hold small screws, buttons, pins etc when sewing or diy
    to turn upside down and glue to the bottom of housplant pots to give them a little extra ‘classy’ looking hight – enjoy:-)

  3. Louise says:

    Bottle tops recycled into cat bowls also good for small dogs too, just search Meltdown Eco Pet Bowl or visit At least some bottle tops are being recycled into something useful.

  4. Ivy says:

    A magic tool to seal up plastic bags
    Here is an eco-friendly and handy tip to seal up our plastic bags and save money !
    Step 1 Collect a plastic bottle
    Step 2 Cut around the neck of the bottle to cut it off .
    Step 3 Pull a plastic bag through the bottle top and screw the cap onto the bottle top .
    Done ! It is better than a ziplock bag !

  5. Bobby says:

    Recycling anything but water bottles and Cans is a joke…… pay for it when you buy it…………but where does it go when your done???? P.E.T.E (2 thru8)…out front to the trash man……..No way they already are getting to much money……….why should we give them any of our recyclables…..They don’t deserve that…..that is ours and we payed for it………The people have been snookered again……What a sham recycling is!!!….Why can’t all P E T be recycled………..cause the oil companies say so…….Oh by the way in my area they are asking for our E waste……….another sham……….We payed good money for those products…and we should be paid a percentage of the recycle monies…….People turn that stuff in for free and some Fat Cat gets richer… they make you pay a fee to by the product so it can be recycled…plus they get the recycle money…….Hold on a minute, were getting nailed at every turn………..Like I said what a sham!!!

    • mousey says:

      Oh; by the way, the helicopters are looking over you as I type. Instead of worrying about who is using it why don’t you put it to use your self. Then your wouldn’t have to worry about all the conspirators against you.

    • Lauren says:

      I think you missed the point…this is about using the part of the bottle that CANNOT be recycled. It’s about actually “continuing to use it” as you suggested. I think you might be one fry short of a full order…and the chip on your shoulder is so big you should just knock it off.

  6. Bridget Hussey says:

    Aveeda has a program to recycle bottle caps. You can contact them to start a program.

    • Vivian says:

      I just checked their site. They only enroll schools & they’re alread at capacity – 1600 schools. Not taking any new enrollments.

      • Wendy says:

        Do you know which schools, or can you find out? Maybe we could drop them off at one of them!!

      • katie says:

        Sorry this is a bit late, but Aveda doesn’t only accept caps in schools. You can bring them to a lot (I won’t say all because I’m not sure) of their stores, and even some of their affiliated salons – just ask the employees if their location is participating in the program. If they’re not, encourage them to start! They recycle the caps into their packaging. Not ALL plastic lids are accepted, but many are. There is a helpful guide on their website which outlines the acceptable/not acceptable caps, and much more info –

        If you have any questions about the program, I would encourage emailing them at I have a few times and they’ve always been very helpful.

  7. Drema says:

    Have you notice that Walmart has started packaging bedding with just carboard around plastic wrap?

  8. lucy says:

    i thinkk we should recycle the bottles before the bottle tops xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  9. Petra says:

    I use bottle caps and the screw part to reuse balloons. Put the end of the ballon through the screw part and blow the balloon. Screw the cap on the other part and the balloon remains inflated. If the party is over, you can unscrew the cap and you can reuse the balloon another time.

    Another possibility, but I didn’t try it yet, is to use the bigger bottle caps and screw part to make a vacuum storage bag.

  10. summer says:

    Measure the inside height of your nicker or sock drawer. Cut plastic bottles to just below the height of the drawer. Use the empty bottle bases to tidy up your nicker or sock drawer. Can be used to tidy any drawer. As there are so many different diameter bottles you should find the right size for any tidy job!
    An instant funnel is the top half of a bottle without the screw top.
    Use the cut bottle bottoms for seedling pots.Make a small cut a couple of inches deep in the bottle bottom,down the edge. Shorten the height of the top half by cutting a few inches off. If you put the top half over the bottom half and it will fit because the cut will over lap, it will be like a little baby green house- cloche.

  11. Lynne says:

    I keep a few in my laundry room for scrubbing the silicone off my hubby’s jeans. The little plastic teeth on the edge do the trick without a lot of extra wear on the denim. They also help really scrub the prewash into oil stains etc

    I also keep a few in near the kitchen sink for scrubbing off the baked on food on my good pans! The finger grip edges and the little teeth on the edge work wonders and they do not scratch!

  12. Michelle Scott says:

    I use them on the patio as feet for my pots to keep them off the ground. I have also used them as filler for bigger pots because they weigh next to nothing.
    The best thing I reuse them for is cat toys! My cats can not resist batting a plastic lid across the floor, under the couch & into every corner of the room. I throw one in the bathtub & watch them go. Eventually the sound of it skimming across the floor will drive me batty (they really do love to do it @ night!), and I will stop their game, but they had fun while it lasted!

    • owlspook says:

      I fostered a mother cat and her two kittens. One day one of the kittens brought me a bottle cap and plunked it down in front of me. She and sat there and look at me. So I pick it up and threw it. And so began the game of throw the bottle cap. Most think this is a game of fetch however I didn’t started And the cat called it throw. Lol ..
      My friend who adopted the two kittens told me that she would find bottle caps in her bed almost every day. With a little detective work she found out one of the cats was doing it. ( one who trained me lol) and so again the game of throw lol. …

      I’m saving them up and looking for ideas what crafty stuff to use them for.

  13. Jon@MilkTops4Charity says:

    Hi, Plastic Supermarket Milk Carton Tops
    can be recycled and all those plastic Tops with a little Recycling Triangle inside the Top (but only those with a 2 or 4 inside the Triangle). If you live in or near Norwich, please send me an email. We are collecting Plastic Tops to recycle and raise money for a local Charity, The Matthew Project:
    Supporting people with drug and alcohol related issues;
    Providing innovative education about the risks of drugs and alcohol;
    Empowering people to make more informed choices. Thanks, Jon@MilkTops4Charity
    PS > As we get some Metal Tops, does anyone know who collects these Metal Tops for recycling? R S V P

  14. Brenda Livingstone says:

    Does anyone know where I can send the green milk bottle tops so they can be made into wellington boots.

  15. Jon@MilkTops4Charity says:

    Hey, Brenda, Do you live near Norwich? If so, please email me: and we can riase funds for a local Charity, The Matthew Project:
    Supporting people with drug and alcohol related issues;
    Providing innovative education about the risks of drugs and alcohol;
    Empowering people to make more informed choices. Thanks, Jon@MilkTops4Charity

  16. cassandra a baker says:

    I’ve a plan to make an inexpensive backsplash for my kitchen by attaching the water bottle caps to a piece of oaktag or plywood painted to enhance my kitchen countertops. you can paint any color you like and fill in the spaces with sometype of ‘putty’ and a coating of a clear protectant spray.

    • louisa says:

      Oooh, do send us a photo if you do that – I need to build a splashback for my kitchen too and would love to see how that looks. Could you use tile grout for the ‘putty’?

  17. Jonathan Hammond says:

    Jon@MilkTops4Charity says:
    Update: April 27th 2011:
    Hi, Plastic Supermarket Milk Carton Tops can be recycled and all those plastic Tops with a little Recycling Triangle inside the Top/Lids (generally only those other plastic Tops(non “MilkTops”) with a 2 or 4 inside the Triangle). If you live in or near Norwich, please send me an email. We are collecting A L L Plastic Tops to recycle and raise money for a local Charity, The Matthew Project:
    Supporting people with drug and alcohol related issues;
    Providing innovative education about the risks of drugs and alcohol;
    Empowering people to make more informed choices. Thanks, Jon@MilkTops4Charity
    PS > As we get some Metal Tops, does anyone know who collects these Metal Tops for recycling? R S V P

  18. Connie says:

    You can recycle plastic caps!

    CapsCanDo accepts caps –

    Please see their web page for more information:

    Mail #5 plastic caps to

    Weisenbach Recycled Products
    437 Holtzman Ave.
    Columbus, OH 43205

    Business Hours:
    Monday-Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST

  19. Monica says:

    Here are a few ways you can use plastic bottle caps-

    The caps make nice game pieces for homemade games for the kids. Preschoolers can use them to sort by colors, or you can add letters or numbers on to them and a magnet back and allow kids to play with them and arrange on a cookie sheet. Then you won’t have to buy those plastic letter magnets, and these are more versatile! You can also play tic- tac- toe with them or use them as checkers.

    Punch holes in them, and create a lacing task for kids.

    Older kids can hot glue the lids together to form shapes or magnets or put them together to make trivets to catch water under your houseplants.

    There are lots of ideas if you are just creative.

    Some stores and companies now are even collecting recycled milk caps (in the same way as soda can tabs) to earn medical treatments. It pays to look into it a bit.

  20. Vivian says:

    Monica, I’d love to know who these companies are that are collecting recycled milk caps to earn medical treatments. Do you know if theat are in the USA? I’ve been trying to find such an organization but to no avail. Any help would be appreciated!

  21. Anonymous says:

    In the United States, there are a few milk manufacturers (dairy) that will donate money to schools or non-profits if you turn in the milk caps. Here is one site that does.

    I also know that Kwik Trip/ Kwik Star stores which are in the Upper Midwest (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan)will also donate to non-profits if you bring the caps back from their milk.

    Also, I know of several churches that collect the caps, and I believe they are for chemo treatments at St. Jude’s Hospital, although I am not positive on that one. I will ask around about this, as I do have a few friends who are doing this.

    • Vivian says:

      Any info yet on which churches are collecting the bottle caps? I’d really be interested in learning which ones. I would contact them directly for more info on their individual programs. I’m trying to organize something for our church in Apollo, Pennsylvania. Any help would be appreciated!

  22. Shannan says:

    I use them in my classroom to create the cheapest and most ‘memory’ games I have seen yet.

    I collect up a batch of 10 or 12 milk bottle tops the same color (and brand, as the markings change). Then pop a sticker on the underside of the lid. Repeat for the remaining bottle tops, making sure that each sticker has a duplicate, so that they can make pairs.

    Students then turn them upside down on the desk and take turns to flip the bottle tops over. If the stickers match then they earn that point, if it is not matching then they turn em back over and the next person has a turn.

    The kids love it!

  23. Medeea says:

    as doormats, bathroom mats…the caps need to be sewn together.
    I think they would make a great path in the garden, instead of tiles.

  24. Jeff Carnal says:

    Everyone could mail them to me or if you live in the Kansas City area I will come and get them. Email me if you have a bunch!! I really need tons of them to create art.

  25. Louise Marie says:

    Ivy: Your suggestion is really cool. Very smart.

  26. Sondra says:

    Collect caps of different sizes. Poke holes through the caps and attach them to individual cords (hemp, twine, etc). Attach the cords to one main cord so there is a cord with a bunch of bottle caps hanging along it. Attach this cord to a knapsack or backpack. This way if you are hiking or just out and about and you see plastic bottles littered around, you can easily screw them to the cord on your backpack to recycle later.

  27. Amanda says:

    The Lion’s Club accepts plastic bottle caps as donations for helping people with eye diseases and disorders!

  28. Vivian says:

    Amanda – is it just your local Lion’s Club or ALL Lion’s Clubs that accept plastic bottle caps as donations for helping people w/eiye disese/disorders? I’ve been waiting for over a year to hear back from our local Lion’s Club.

  29. effejetle says:

    Who and where to edit this summer on festival, appropriation your information.

  30. Jon Hammond says:

    If you have Plastic Tops, Lids, Caps we can recycle these in Norfolk, UK, and raise money for a local Charity: The Matthew Project.

    Please send me an email saying where you are;

    how many sacks/dustbin bags you have;

    the approx weight (kgs);

    and whether you can deliver the sacks of Tops
    to Norwich this time and/or on a regular basis…
    (or via The Rotary Club network, see below).

    To email me:

    Thanks, Jon Hammond @ tops4charity, Norwich, Norfolk, UK.
    ALSO, your local Rotary Club Memebers are
    becoming increasingly aware of my scheme to
    recycle Plastic (Tops) 4Charity. Please contact
    your local rotary club and ask them to contact
    their East Anglian Colleague, Dr Keith Tovey,
    who will give them more background, etc…

  31. Emma Ferris says:

    Hi All,

    I am collecting the metal bottle tops to make jewellery and other creative projects. If you have any you could send me it would be much appreciated.

    Kind Regards

    Emma Ferris

  32. Hilary King says:

    Happy to send you metal tops providing it is ecologically feasible. Can you let me know where you are? I live near Norwich. Working through the Rotary Club of Norwich – see website.

  33. Kai says:

    Toys for pets:
    A stuffed fabric throw toy with a rattle inside.

    Two caps that fit together.
    Waterproof glue.
    Small piece of fabric or old sock or any scrap fabric.
    Filling. Scrap fabric, foam, Etc.

    Half fill the smaller plastic bottle top with tiny beads.
    Glue the two caps together. The smaller one into the larger one.
    This is the rattle. Different beads and quantities will change the sound.
    Sew the fabric squares together, turn inside out.
    Stuff with a filling and insert rattle made from bottle tops into the center. Sew closed.

    My puppies love them. I sew a thick Elastic band onto the toy and attach the other end to furnishings. The puppies pull and chew the toy which bounces back when tugged.
    The older dogs love to “fetch” the rattle toy when thrown. The noise allows them to know where it fell, even if behind furniture or in the dark.
    If one has several dogs, stock up with a full basket of rattle toys. They love the excitement of fetching all together. Great for a pack of dogs.
    These rattles if filled with foam of synthetic pillow fill does not damage household furnishing like a tennis ball will.

    I use a sturdy washable fabric and throw them into the washing machine when dirty. The dogs love to nibble on them so choice something with a tight weave such as denim.

    Have fun.

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