Aveda’s Recycle Caps program makes #5 plastic recyclable

With curbside recycling in most area across the U.S., we’ve learned what we can recycle and which ones we can’t. The rigid polypropylene (known as #5) plastic –found in all sorts of containers – generally falls into that last category.

Because recyclers rarely accept this highly used plastic, the majority of it winds up in landfills.

Personal care giant Aveda Corporation has taken on the issue. In 2008, they introduced their “Recycle Caps with Aveda” (see “Discover Aveda” section). Started two years earlier as a recycling program for employees and their families, it’s now a nationwide program for pre-school through twelfth grades.

“We created the program to inspire people, create change and support the environment and (to) convince recycling centers and municipalities that #5 plastic should be collected,” said Evan Miller, Aveda’s Director of Global Communications.

The Recycle Caps program accepts #5 plastic caps and/or lids for recycling. Once collected, they’re sent to a recycler where they’re sorted, cleaned, melted down and ground into pellets, then turned into new bottle caps for Aveda hair care products.

Aveda’s take-back program accepts:

  • threaded-neck twist on #5 caps from shampoo, water, soda, milk and other beverage bottles
  • lids from medications (but not the medicine bottles)
  • flip top caps on tubes
  • food product bottles (such as for ketchup and mayonnaise), laundry detergent caps
  • some jar lids such as for peanut butter

Aveda won’t accept lids from yogurt, margarine and cottage cheese-type containers, screw on lids that aren’t rigid, metal lids or plastic pumps / sprayers.

It’s an environmental initiative that’s taking off, says Miller.

Entire cities such as Mobile, Alabama and a town in Arizona are enrolled in the program. Over 1,600 schools around the country – including a school district (40 schools) on Long Island, New York – are participating in the program. Together, they’ve collected over 488,000 pounds of caps.

All sorts of groups are collecting #5 plastic bottle caps and sending them to Aveda

Aveda calculates this as: 1 truck load’s worth = 20,000 pounds which = 2.3 million caps That’s over 56 million caps collected so far!

All sorts of groups are collecting caps – churches, children, even the Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts International has selected this as their environmental initiative for 2011.

Aveda will soon launch a pilot packaging take-back program. If all goes well, the company may roll the program out nationally late next year.

“Our goal is to be a closed-loop system,” said Miller, “so that anything we create, we can take back and repurpose.”

Plastic that's washed onto the beaches of Hawaii from the northern Pacific "Garbage Patch"

There’s tons of plastic floating in the ocean, said Miller. Marine life mistakes it for food, with excruciatingly cruel consequences. “It’s happening because (the plastic’s) not being recycled or are in landfills,” he said.

These programs are meant to protect wildlife and to educate people that 99% of recyclers won’t accept #5 curbside.

Miller encourages people to reach out to their local recycler about collecting bottle caps – see if it’s something they’ve considered or can put into place.

It's easy to participate in the Recycle with Aveda program - and it keeps thousands of pounds of waste from our landfills

To get involved in the Recycle Caps with Aveda program:

  •  Contact Aveda to sign up your school, group or community
  • Take #5 caps and lids to a dedicated Aveda store.
  • Check the Aveda website for a list of participating salons in your area
  • Whole Foods now collects plastic #5 products.

16 Responses

  1. Hello,

    I would love to talk to you about an issue that I feel is a hot topic in environmental news. I have written an article that I think your readers would be interested in seeing on your blog.

    Did you know that in the last 100 years, our agricultural habits have left us with about a quarter of the crop diversity we once had?

    I looking to promote that idea that by encouraging grocery shoppers to branch out from their usual selections and to join the local food movement, they can help to conserve this forgotten species, and create a more sustainable agricultural system.

  2. Evan:
    Nice program. I know is not easy inspiring people, but the campaign you are doing is wonderful.
    We encourage people to become a recyclers for keeping useful stuff out of landfill and helping other people improving life conditions


    • Just follow the links in the story to do so. I’ve been doing it for a while. It’s great!

      • What links, I keep running into brick walls.
        Have lots to recycle, but no where to do so.

      • Thanks for your message. I just discovered that somehow when Aveda updated their website, they left out the info on the Recycle Caps program.

        To find out more about this, you can phone 877 283-3209 or email them at capcollection @aveda.com.

        I’ll post an update when and if there is a link I can post for this.


    • would like to send bottle caps to you.can i have an address to
      mail them to. thank you, LINDA
      BRICK, N.J.

      • Linda:

        I’d think it would be easier to find a hair salon in your area that carries Aveda products and participates in this program. Then gather your caps and take them there. I’ve been doing this for over a year now. The salon offers specials for folks who bring in caps.

        Check the website for a salon near you.

  4. […] Caps with Aveda” campaign officially started in 2008, in which they worked with schools pre-school through twelfth grade to collect and recycle […]

    • Thanks for the update on this. Appreciate it. And thanks for reading my blog!

      • Hi, I am interested in donating bottle caps to Aveda. Are they still collecting them? Could not find much info.

      • As far as I know they are. If you know of an Aveda salon in your area, check with them as I was told that all of them accept them. If there isn’t, try phoning them in NY at 800-644-4831. And let me know what they say, won’t you?

  5. Your style is so unique compared to other people I have read stuff
    from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity,
    Guess I’ll just book mark this page.

  6. why has the Aveda store in Crown Ctr in Kansas City STOPPED the program? Where can we take our lids to now in KC. This NEEDS to be continued. Thank you Envirothink will call NY tomorrow.

  7. […] “For instance, Aveda is using recycled plastics (PCR) in its product packaging. It also ran a waste recovery programme for plastic caps, whereby it has collected and recycled over 37 million propylene caps from schools, retailers and […]

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