Sunday, 15 June 2014

Put a lid on it.

A word about bottle caps - the plastic ones that is.  If you are familiar with my work then you'll know that a good proportion of my pincushions contain recycled caps from soft drinks bottles and milk cartons.   I generally obtain these from my own excessive consumption of artificially sweetened, unhealthy fizzy pop or from shady handovers of plastic bags in the school playground.

Well recently, just before I went on my holiday, a very good friend of mine gave me a 'gift' of a black bin liner filled to the brim with every size and shape of lid you could imagine!  Apparently they had come to her via an elderly gentleman who had been collecting them for a charity drive at our local social club.  He hadn't realised that the drive had finished and no one had the heart to tell him so my friend hoped I could use at least some of the massive amount he had collected so his work wouldn't be wasted.

Well after a day of sorting, disinfecting and drying I managed to set all but two carrier bags of the plastic stuff aside for use in pincushions, but what on earth was going on for this gent to collect so many (often from bins and just from litter collecting I was told) and what could I do with what I had left?   Well it seems that plastic recycing facilities differ from region to region but the majority of councils that recycle plastic bottles require the caps to be removed.  This is a shame as many caps can be granulated into a raw material and used in all sorts of procucts BUT they need to be sorted which is costly and you need millions of the tiny things to get any real weight worth collecting or recycling.

I use plastic regularly in small quantites in my practice and even 100 caps really doesn't look like much but to see such a large amount in one place was quite alarming and got me thinking about how much there must be in the world!   Since I now possess every bottle cap in my village, enough to make pincushions for about the next ten years, what can my playground suppliers do with their bottle caps?  Well here are a few ideas but sadly there aren't many areas of the UK covered by these schemes  so please let me know if you know of any in your area.

Green Oil actually reuse bottle caps from soft drinks on their product bottle and pay real money which could be donated to charity.
Waste Connect has detailed information about how Lush cosmetics collect and recycle plastic lids including how you should prepare the lids (free from foil, rubber or paper, washed and sorted)
G.H.S. Recycling Ltd in Portsmouth currently collect milk bottle tops in the South of England and are looking for companies in the rest of the UK to receive bottle caps in other areas for them.  The caps they granulate go into children's garden toys or more bottle tops!
The Green Centre in Brighton gets top eco-marks for taking any quantity of caps which can be dropped off in the bin outside the centre!
Make stuff!  Collect and upcycle caps yourself, there are loads of fab ideas on this Pinterest board from Betsy Roman and I love that rainbow chair!

Unfortunately, the Wychbury Designs Recycling Centre will have to be closed for a while as I have something of a surplus but I promise I will work as fast as I can to use them all up!

Paula xxx


  1. Great post Paula :) You are right so much goes to waste. Love to learn just small ways we can help to recycle. Will spread the word - thanks !