Friday, December 5, 2008

Big money in caps?

I don't know that much about plastic, apart from knowing I want less of it in my life. There are many different types, some more recyclable than others, some scarier than others, but all of them a complicated mix of petroleum and chemicals.

This guy writing for the Duluth News Tribune knows a thing or two about plastic though:

After being yelled at for putting a cheapo high density polyethylene bottle with a polypropylene cap still on it into a recycle bin, I had to check the plastics market. The Street Plastic Prices Report confirmed my hunch: Polypro was selling between $1.01 and $2.25 a pound. HDPE was going for only 49 to 89 cents.

So why are recyclers asking you to throw away the more valuable material and reclaiming the cheap stuff?

Several reasons, says Duluth’s Greg Hartel. “It becomes difficult to bale a plastic bottle when the top is on,” he said, relating horror stories of caps turning into projectiles when the bottles are crushed.

In that case, duck. The real issue, though, is economics.

“It’s not necessarily that something can’t be processed, but whether a particular process makes it economically feasible to do it,” Hartel said, adding the no-cap policy of his family’s business may change with an impending expansion. “I don’t think we’ve made up our minds which direction we want to go in regards to caps.”

At two bucks a pound, I’ll help — except I might have competition. Mike Lunow from Waste Management in the Twin Cities said the company’s Duluth operation does accept caps.

Huh! It has always bugged me that plastic bottles are recyclable, but the caps are not. And here's this guy saying the caps are worth twice as much. Hopefully the recycling companies will figure out how to get at that untapped revenue potential soon.

No comments: