Did you know that most plastic recyclers in the U.S. don’t recycle the plastic caps on soda bottles, even if they accept them in your recycling pickup? Nope? Neither did I, until recently. I hated the idea of all that plastic going into a landfill. What to do, what to do? Well, experiment, that’s what!

Here’s the result: a black plastic soda cap turned into a sturdy, durable keyring fob.

Bottlecap Key Fob

It will last just as long in a purse or pocket as it would in a landfill, but be a whole lot more useful. The textured edge makes it easy to hold onto, while the heart-shaped cutout adds personality.

First, I removed the thin liner from the cap — this is a blue-ish, transparent piece of plastic that helps maintain the seal when the cap is tightened onto the bottle. Trust me, it has to come out, if you want to cut a shape out of the center of the cap. (Depending on the style of cap your local bottler uses, you may be able to simply pry the liner out with the help of a fingernail, or you may have to take an exacto-knife to it, and remove it in pieces.)

Next, the cap has to be melted. I did this in my oven, making sure the room was well-ventilated. The cap was placed, open side up, on a piece of foil on a cookie-sheet, and went into the pre-heated 350F oven. Here’s where you’ll have to experiment — some ovens are hotter than others, some less. It also depends a bit on how patient you are — the melting process can take anywhere from five to ten minutes, depending on temperature and the individual cap. It’s a gradual process, but eventually, you’ll see the cap start, v-e-r-y slowly, to reduce in height as the sides melt down, and the center will become very glossy.

Now you have to work fast. The sheet comes out of the oven, and a miniature heart-shaped cutter is pressed directly into the center of the melted cap. I took a plain metal bottle-opener and pressed the flat center portion directly across the heart cutter, repeatedly and extremely firmly, pushing it as far through the cap as I possibly could. (I suppose you could use your fingers if you’re strong, but the metal cutter picks up the heat from the melted plastic almost immediately, and it would be easy to get burned.)

With the cutter still embedded in the cap, I left the whole thing to sit for about five minutes, until it was cool enough to handle comfortably. Then I peeled the cap and cutter off of the foil, turned it over, and used the rounded end of the bottle opener to press on the plastic inside the edge of the cutter, working my way around the entire shape, until the heart-shaped piece of plastic came free from the rest of the cap. This is a little tricky — go carefully, so that you don’t slice yourself on the cutter when the shape comes free. Once the shape is removed, you will have to work a bit to get the cutter out of the rest of the cap, but it will eventually slide off.

The final step is to drill a small hole at the top of the heart, just inside the textured edge of the cap; the plastic will be quite hard at this point, so I recommend using a dremel or similar tool. Add a large split ring, and voila, you have a key fob!