Plastic Soda Lids: The Impact They Have on Our Environment

Lately, people have been up in arms about plastic straws, plastic bags, etc. The plastic straws and bags impact our oceans and hurt wild life. Restaurants are trying their best to get rid of plastic bags and straws. However, plastic straws and plastic bags have a cousin that isn’t quite as popular. Their cousin’s name is plastic soda lids. Every restaurant in the United States provides plastic lids to cover your fountain drink. So, why aren’t plastic soda lids talked about in the same way straws and bags are? Maybe, it’s because lids are smaller. Or, perhaps, it’s because they are less noticeable than straws. Either way, plastic soda lids have a major impact on the environment and recycling may not be the answer.

The Impact of Plastic Soda Lids on the Environment

We’ve all seen pictures of sea turtles with straws stuck in their nose and fish eating plastic bags. It’s a tragedy that so many sea creatures are hurt by those types of plastics ending up in our oceans. Unfortunately, plastic soda lids aren’t any different from their cousins’ straws and plastic bags. Any type of plastic that ends up in our oceans impacts the wildlife. If a straw ends up in the ocean, then a plastic lid will too. More often than not, plastic lids are used with straws. Therefore, if a straw is thrown away, then so is a plastic lid. There should be just as many plastic lids in the oceans as there are straws. Hopefully, the lids are easier for animals to digest, but plastic still dangerous for them to eat.

plastic soda lids, plastic cup, oceans, waste

But, You Can Recycle Them, Right?

Technically, you can recycle plastic lids. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. Many recycling plants don’t like plastic soda lids because the plastic is different than bottles. There are multiple types of plastics, all of which have to be recycled differently. The plastics are sorted by thickness, color, size, etc. When plastic is recycled it is crushed into tiny pieces and made into other plastic objects. Plastics of different types can’t be smashed together because it would compromise the integrity of what it’s recycled into. Most recycling plants are forced to prioritize the plastics that they recycle. Typically, plastic bottles and plastic bottle caps win out over plastic soda lids. This leaves plastic soda lids to, potentially, be tossed out, even by recycling plants.

There Is Still Hope, Though!

It may seem like plastic soda lids are a problem that doesn’t have a solution. Fortunately, there are two solutions that are already in motion. The first, is that many restaurants, like KFC and Starbucks, have ditched plastic soda lids. Customers that order drinks “to-go” still leave with plastic soda lids, but “dine-in” customers don’t use one. Secondly, we have “ecotainers”. Ecotainer’s are new, compostable soda cups and lids. They eliminate the need for plastic and are an environmentally safe alternative to plastic soda lids.


Plastic soda lids have a huge and negative impact on the environment. They end up in the oceans and effect the wildlife the same way plastic bags and straws do. Plastic soda lids also don’t get as much publicity as plastic straws and plastic bags, but they are still bad news. Recycling plants don’t like to recycle the lids for various reasons. Luckily, there are environmentally safe alternatives to using plastic soda lids. Many restaurants are helping us fight this battle against plastic lids. Some have eliminated them as an option for “dine-in” customers and others use a compostable alternative. If we can forgo straws, it should be easy to stop using plastic soda lids!     

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Bailey Longhurst

I am amazed every day by the beauty that this world provides for us and think it is important to preserve it! Taking care of ourselves and our earth is crucial and I want to help people discover new ways to do both. Publishing for Green and Growing is a unique way that I can get my message across, and I hope you all enjoy what we write about!

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