Three Discovery Middle School students begin bottle cap recycling project

MADISON, Ala. -  Change can start with a summer stroll. The Chopade Sisters know that.

"We were walking through our subdivision one day, and we realized that some people had left caps in their blue recycling bins," Neha Chopade, 7th grader, explained. "They left them on the bottles when they placed them in their blue bins, while others had removed them."

This puzzled the girls, so they looked into it.

"We researched about why Alabama recycling facilities don't accept the plastic caps," Puja Chopade, a 7th grader, explained. "That's because the caps are made of polypropylene with PIC code number 5 and the bottles are number 1. They have different melting points which is 160 degrees of difference. The recycling facilities treat the caps as an impurity, so it ends up in landfills.  That's bad because in the US, only 9% of bottle caps are properly recycled each year so out of 50 billion manufactured, only 4 billion are correctly recycled."

The students, including their peer Timothy Zhu, presented a solution to the wasteful problem at a recent  Madison City Council meeting. Together, the students and city put yellow recycling bins out at all Madison city fire departments. They hope people will use them to get rid of their plastic bottle caps.

"If we don't take care of our Planet Earth, it could be really trashy, like a lot of trash everywhere and it wouldn't look good in the future for our kids," Zhu said.

The caps will eventually move on to be recycled in Troy, after the yellow bins fill up.