Keep Alliance Beautiful is going topless!

I heard that on the radio a few weeks back. Hmmm . . . never saw a memo about our dress code. Then the brief commercial continued. Turns out we want our plastic bottles to go topless. Wait, they don’t wear clothes to begin with. Listen to the whole PSA and everyone learns our Executive Director Kathy Worley wants the public to remove the caps before recycling any No. 1 through 7 bottles or containers.

This request is not random or without precedent at the KAB recycling center.

The short answer to the “topless” request is bottles without caps compress better when baling plastic. Therefore we can get more plastic in a single bale and market a heavier bale. Now, I’d say the majority of the bottles we see have no caps. However, a few are partially or entirely full of their original contents and must be emptied before being thrown into the baler.

A few years ago, KAB actively collected bottle caps for the mural that is displayed at the downtown mini park at Third and Box Butte. That bulldog was created by gluing hundreds of the colorful caps to sheets of plywood. Another mural, both made by youth through a Carnegie Arts Center project, is stored at the recycling center. This one, a cow, is planned for exhibit at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center.

There is no current plan for another mural in this vein, so bags of caps we receive are usually pitched since they do not tend to stay in the bales well. I have yet to check if caps are appropriate to include in our Hefty Energy Bag program.

Years ago KAB also asked the public to remove caps. This push proved temporary and No. 1 and 2 plastic bottles and containers became acceptable with or without caps.

Like the current play on words to inform recyclers about our cap preference, there are other guidelines in place. If these are not followed we often take the time to remedy the situation if the material is not contaminated or is not recyclable. Below is a partial list of our guidelines and the reason for each:

Do not bag items -- except shredded paper -- when using the trailers. Bags must be opened and sorted apart from the rest of the container. Loose items are more easily transferred and sorted.

Do not confuse cardboard and fiberboard and place one material in the other trailer/container. Paperboard, sometimes referred to as fiber, is a single or very thin layer. Cardboard is two thin layers over a wavey, thin layer, usually an eighth to a quarter inch thick. Each material is baled separately for recycling into different end products.

Tin and aluminum cans are recycled separately and should be placed in their respective bins. On a side note, H&H Sanitation no longer accepts aluminum cans. KAB does though we do not pay for them.

Any material recycled curbside, at the center or in our trailers should be clean and dry. Anything otherwise, such as a half full jar of peanut butter, will be thrown away.

Batteries must be taped. Batteries without tape may spark or even ignite during shipping.

So, with the end of summer still technically more than a month away I suppose it is as good a time as any to go topless. Don’t let taking off your bottles’ caps be a seasonable fab. Maybe caps will come back in style some day. We’ll let you know.

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