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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Operations > Operations Strategy & Management > Waste Management

Coping with half a billion drinks in bottles and cans per year

Both consumers and the industry can improve our stewardship of plastic bottles and cans.

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Plastic Bottles and Cans Can Be Recycled!

American consumers buy half a billion drinks in bottles and cans every day but only one-third are recycled; most end up land filled, incinerated or littered.

This results in major pollution and energy impacts, and depletion of aluminum ore and petroleum resources. Producing containers using virgin resources increases greenhouse gas emissions. If the current container recycling rate of 34% were increased to 80%, avoided greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 2.4 million cars off the road for one year, the report said.

Bottled Water is a Runaway Waste Problem

Bottled water sales have grown nearly 700% in the last eight years, yet stand-alone water companies have shown no leadership in using recycled content or improving recycling rates.

“Beverage sales jumped five-fold in the last 30 years while container recycling rates have dropped from 53% in 1992 to 34% in 2004,” said Patricia Franklin, executive director of Container Recycling Institute (CRI). “Each year we are producing more beverages but recycling a smaller portion of those containers.” CRI partnered with As You Sow in producing the report.

Beverage Companies Need Strategic Programs to Recycle

A new study released by As You Sow concludes that most major U.S. beverage companies are failing to take substantive action to use recycled content and increase container recovery efforts.

"Waste and Opportunity: U.S. Beverage Container Recycling Scorecard and Report", (PDF download) a report card on the beverage industry's recycling efforts by As You Sow and the Container Recycling Institute, gives PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. the highest grades on recycling efforts; both earn a C.

Recycling Best Practices for Beverage Companies

The recycling report makes five recommendations for beverage companies to reduce environmental impact:
  • Use higher levels of recycled content in their bottles
  • Set a national beverage container recovery goal
  • Support public policies and voluntary measures that increase recycling
  • Develop design innovations leading to less packaging material
  • Publicly report on their progress to stakeholders

As You Sow
311 California St, Suite 510
San Francisco, CA 94104
T 415-391-3212
F 415-391-3245

Container Recycling Institute (CRI)
1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20036-1904
T (202) 263-0999

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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