One Step Closer

9 12 2011

The friend whose work collects bottle caps for chemotherapy treatments got back to me.  She told me:

“They send them into the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Tennessee and every 1000 bottle caps gives one patient a chemotherapy treatment.”

I called the center today and the man on the help line was unsure.  He told me he has heard about these collections but also heard that many were not true.  He is getting back to me after he collects information from his coworkers, so I am excited to find out on Monday!





Do Your Part

9 12 2011

My focus is spreading the knowledge about bottle caps and their recycling process, but while doing this research, I found some other interesting facts about recycling that surprised me.

My mom always told me to rinse out the milk jug, my soda bottle, and other recyclable things, but I thought it was just so our house did not get ants and the little bits of leftovers in the bottles did not mold.

According to Thinkgreen.com as well as many other sites, I found that even just one item that still has waste in it can pollute the entire batch of recyclables (each batch being thousands of pounds), and is taken to the landfill not recycled.

Along with recycling properly, I try and do my part by reducing what I use.  One and a half million barrels of oil are used to make a years supply of waterbottles, and all this plastic is hurting our environment.  Rather than decomposing, plastic goes through photo degradation which breaks the plastic down into smaller and smaller pieces but never is really gone.  Even the process of photo degradation takes hundreds of years. The plastic is hurting the Earth’s animals in the water, on land and in air.  The picture below is of a baby albatross bird that was fed plastic mistaken for food by its parents. In its decomposing body, you can see that the plastic is still there, and hasn’t changed from its original forms in the slightest.

The average recycling rate that is remaining pretty steady throughout the years is 27%.  This resulted in 2,480,000 tons of plastic being thrown away in 2008 (recorded by the Environmental Protection Agency). Sixty million single-use drink containers were purchased in 2006, with 3 out of every 4 being thrown away right after the beverage was consumed.

Plastic bottles are the most common source of pollution found on the beaches and every square mile of water is said to have 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it. (Reuseit.com). Animals are dying painful deaths due to what they ingest.

So why not use reusable water bottles? There is less waste created, there are no worries about which recycling centers take the caps, and considering the US spent $100 billion on bottled water in 2006 (Oneworld.net), it would save everyone a lot of money!





A Cause for the Cap Collection

8 12 2011

My #intcom class has a deep place in their hearts for breast cancer.  We all own pink pens thanks to our professor (@coryOConnor) who practically bought out the pink breast cancer center of Staples, and we all did our best to tweet #projectpink whenever we could, donating money towards breast cancer, sponsored by Puma.  That being said, I would love to donate these bottle caps to an organization sponsoring breast cancer, or turn them in somewhere for money so I can donate on behalf of the Chapman students!

Unfortunately, I am not having much luck.  Malia Walker, the woman I interviewed from the Waste Management of Orange County also told me there is no place she knows of where I can turn the caps in for money.  I found a few websites online about donating the caps to provide a session of chemotherapy for a patient, but looking at snopes.com (a site uncovering rumors), it is apparently not true.  As I began to think my goal was impossible, I walked into a meeting on campus and a girl was carrying a handful of plastic bottle caps, ready to bring into her work where they were donating them to provide a friend with chemotherapy.  I told her about my blog and findings but she told me that she knows it provided the patient chemotherapy because they have provided enough caps to already give him a session.  She is checking with her work today about the contact information and exact details, so I am very excited to hear back about that!

Another option for those of you who may want to donate these caps rather than just throw them in the recycle bin (unscrewed of course), is to donate them to Aveda.  Find the closest Aveda Experience Center on the Internet (Earth911.com) and take your bottle caps in. They will recycle them, turning the caps into new packaging for the Aveda hair products.





Plethora of Plastics

7 12 2011

Each type of plastic is marked with a number inside of a triangular shape made of arrows.  This number is the resin identification code (RIC).  These numbers range from 1-7 and all represent different types of plastics, with different melting points.

Bottle caps generally have an RIC of 5.  Not every recycling center has the capabilities to recycle this type of plastic, but the centers that do take ths plastic are growing in numbers. This plastic is called Polypropylene and is also used to make things like yogurt containers, syrup bottles, catsup bottles, some straws, and prescription medicine bottles as shown in the picture below.

Not only can the mixture of bottle caps and their bottles be a danger to the workers and the machines, but also, a very small amount of the wrong plastic can contaminate an entire batch of plastic being recycled. To find out which recycling centers nearby take the types of plastics you are in need of recycling, check earth911.com.  Here you can type in the area in which you live, as well as the types of things you are looking to recycle.  It brings up a list of the locations, with links to each center.

For those of you living in and around Orange County, CA, the closest places to bring plastic bottle caps would be the Aveda Experience Centers in Costa Mesa, Brea and Mission Viejo, Domestic Metals and Plastics in Long Beach, and Cactus Recycling Inc. in Paramount, CA.





Peer Knowledge

6 12 2011

What I thought was interesting is the lack of knowledge by my very own peers at Chapman University about the process of recycling bottle caps and the harm it does.  Mentioning this topic to my Internet Communications class, only one hand went up indicating that the student was aware of the proper disposal of plastic bottles and their tops, and the reason why they can not be recycled together.  Surveying 15 other random people on campus, I found that fourteen out of fifteen recycle plastic bottles.  Three students take the caps off the bottles before recycling, while eleven leave the cap on and one does not take it off, but does not put it back on if the cap is already off. Two of the three students who do take the cap off, throw the cap away in the trash, while only one student put it in the recycling bin, fully informed of the reasons behind this recycling process.  The majority of people do not take the caps off for reasons such as: “I’m too lazy”, “It’s easier”, “You assume they want the whole bottle”, “The cap is plastic too”, and “I don’t want them loose in the bag.”

What Chapman University and the rest of society needs, is knowledge on the topic of recycling plastics.  I believe a lot of these people would care more and do the right thing if they were taught properly on how and what to recycle. The way in which society is recycling is just habit and due to a lack of knowledge.  I believe that if Chapman gets on board, the word can quickly spread as students tell their family and friends who do the same thing, creating a sustainable society.





The Issue

6 12 2011

One of the biggest issues, is that the right answer when referring to what one should do with their bottle caps, is slightly unclear, even within the waste management companies.  Credible sources need to publish more information about the process and what the correct thing to do is, so people can make a change. Bottle caps and the bottle itself are made of two different plastics. Bottle caps are labeled with a 5 (the resin identification code), while the bottles are labeled usually 1 or 2.  Recycling centers only take certain resin identification coded plastics, depending on the location.  Even if a recycling center nearby takes plastics labeled 1, 2, and 5, they do not all get recycled together.  The higher the number, the higher melting point the plastic has.  If the caps and bottles were to all be recycled together, the bottle caps would shatter rather than melt due to the decreased heat.  These shatters cause a problem as they jam the machines that need to be running all the time to take care of the waste humans create.  While melting the bottles, pressure is created due to the heat and the rest of the recycling process.  This pressure can be dangerous as caps can pop off the bottle and injure workers at the recycling centers.

Because machines can get jammed and workers can get injured, bottles that still have the caps screwed on are most times thrown away, and headed towards the dump. This causes problems as our landfills are filling up and plastic does not decompose well.

As a little background information, I have added this video that goes through the process of recycling plastic.

To verify my information, I interviewed Malia Walker, a worker in the customer service department of Waste Management of Orange County.  She confirmed my research that “it is better to keep the caps off the bottles because it is better for the process of the bottles getting smashed down”.  I always wondered what I should do with the cap after I take it off, and Malia Walker said that it is best to also place these in the recycle bin.  As stated earlier, I wanted to collect bottle caps to raise money for breast cancer, but between Malia and snopes.com (a rumor has it site), it seems as though there is no where to collect money to be donate in exchange for the bottle caps.





Cap Collecting

6 12 2011

What to throw away, what to recycle, and how to go about these processes can sometimes be controversial, even when talking to people in the recycling business.  Through research on the topic, I have discovered that leaving the caps screwed onto the bottles takes the bottles out of the recycling process, and straight to landfills.

What I am asking, is for everyone to be more informed about this topic so our recycling efforts do not go to waste.  To begin this process, I would like to start small with the Chapman University community.  I am requesting Jerry Price, the Dean of Students, to help me in this effort by printing signs for each recycling bin to inform the students that bottle caps need to be taken off, but may still be thrown in with the recycle bin.  I feel as though Dean Price would help me out with my efforts because he is very supportive of the student body and cares very much about meeting the needs of Chapman’s students.  Our campus has a goal to be as sustainable as it can be, so why not make cap removal a habit?

I am writing this blog to inform my readers about the importance of recycling and the correct way to do so.  I originally hoped to collect bottle caps and turn them in for money to be donated towards breast cancer research, but it turns out there are not facilities that do this.  Instead, I will tell my readers about the causes they can donate these caps to, and the locations that accept plastic bottle caps.








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