Dear Recyclebank: Can you recycle aluminum yogurt caps? –Diane H.
Dear Diane: Aluminum is incredibly well suited to being recycled, and given that doing so saves 92% of the energy it would require to create new products from virgin aluminum ore, it’s absolutely worth the effort. However, as with other materials, the form it comes in can affect a recycling handler’s ability to process it. Because foil is so frequently contaminated by food, not all facilities will accept it. It’s also thin and flexible, which can cause problems with certain recycling machinery. Check your city’s restrictions before you add your foil to the recycling pile.
All that said, the foil lids on yogurt are subject to the same recycling restrictions as other aluminum foil, provided they haven’t been lined or coated with any other materials. As with anything you put in your recycling, these foil lids must be thoroughly rinsed and cleaned of food waste. Traces of that delicious Greek yogurt spell bad news for a batch of recycling. Also consider saving your lids and crumpling them together into a ball: This will help ensure they don’t get caught in machinery or oxidize immediately during the recycling process.
If your area doesn’t recycle foil, or if you’re just concerned about excess waste, try buying your yogurt in larger plastic tubs. You can portion out your servings in bowls or reusable containers such as Tupperware. Buying in bulk for things you use often helps reduce waste, and there’s a good chance you’ll save money doing it. Plus, using up fewer individual containers (and therefore resources) is a better bet for the environment. Once you’ve finished all of the yogurt from a larger tub, both it and its lid might also be able to be recycled. Either way, the fewer individual containers you purchase, the better.