You finish a bottle of water, rinse it out, toss it and the cap into the recycling bin, take it out so it gets in the truck. You've done your job.
You're a good recycler, right? Apparently not.
The caps are made of different material than the bottles, and most recycling companies are just throwing them into a landfill.
That's according to Anna Chan, a local woman also known as the Lemon Lady, is working with people from throughout the San Ramon Valley and Tri-Valley to change that. It's more than just the caps from water and soda, she said.
"Stand in your grocery store and look around," she said. "It's salad dressing, milk containers, toothpaste. There's just millions of them."
Chan, who considers every day to be Earth Day, says many of the plastic caps find their way into the water and wind up in the Pacific Ocean, where they've formed a mass.
Most municipalities in the region contract with a recycling firm that doesn't recycle lids and tops.
Chan recently met with Danville Rotarian Scott Singeley, who's pushing for his organization to take charge and put out cans to collect the caps to be properly recycled. Chan says she'll even provide the cans.
There are alternatives. Hair care company Aveda is encouraging schools across the country to hold their own recycling drives for caps and Aveda will foot the shipping bill. For people to recycle directly with Aveda, the company has a site that can direct them to the nearest facility by zip code at
A Valley Waste Management representative said she often refers people to www.earth911.com as well.
Chan says some contractors do recycle lids, which include everything from spray cans to shampoo bottles and even the caps from markers. She says the first step is to check with the recycler directly and ask them.