Enviro Depots around the province are participating in a new initiative aimed at reusing something deemed too small for most recyclers.
Plastic bottle caps from pop bottles, milk cartons, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, and prescription medicine jars all fall under this category.
"Basically anything with a plastic cap that's roughly under two inches in diameter," says Bruce Rogers, executive director of Eastern Recyclers Association (ERA).
The ERA represents about 90 per cent of Enviro Depot owners in the province, and 60 per cent of those in New Brunswick.
"Our main business obviously is the deposit-bearing beverage containers, and we give out the refunds for those," says Rogers. "But we also collect electronics, paint, and some of the owners collect metals. The plastic caps is a new project that we're involved in."
Typically, as bottle caps are too small to be recycled with other plastics, they get thrown in the garbage.
But now they will have an opportunity for new life as part of bio filters at waste water treatment plants.
"It will be tested in large commercial outlets, wastewater systems for towns and large private resorts," says Rogers. "It's not for your typical septic tank system."
The plastic caps will replace a similar cap that's currently used.
"So rather than producing, or somebody buying new ones, the existing caps could be reused, repurposed," Rogers tells NEWS 95.7's The Sheldon MacLeod Show.
Rogers notes that Enviro Depot owners have been interested in this for some time, but until now there wasn't an opportunity to reporpose the caps locally.
The ERA has partnered with environmental consultants, researchers at Dalhousie University, a municipality and two Nova Scotian resorts for the pilot period.
"In Nova Scotia there's about 250 waste water treatment systems around the province, and they all need to be upgraded from time to time and the filtering system needs to be refreshed," Rogers says.
The ERA has about 15 Enviro Depot locations in HRM on board, plus another 30 locations across Nova Scotia, but Rogers says they are hoping to get more interest as the program grows.
"Typically you'd have taken those caps and probably tossed them in the blue bag or some people even might just toss them in the garbage," he says. "But save up a small plastic bag full, or a little box of them, and when you return your beverage containers to us, then bring in those plastic caps and they'll be repurposed."