Major U.S. beverage brands showing new interest in taking responsibility for collecting, recycling post-consumer beverage packaging, study finds; of 224 billion beverage containers sold in U.S. yearly, only 29% by weight recycled

Alison Gallant

Alison Gallant

Aug 11, 2011 – Industry Intelligence

LOS ANGELES , August 11, 2011 () – Several major U.S. beverage companies would endorse laws making the industry financially liable for collecting and recycling their products’ packaging, BevNET.com reported Aug. 10, citing a report from advocacy group As You Sow.

“Waste & Opportunity: U.S. Beverage Container Recycling Scorecard and Report,” is the group’s third study of the industry since 2006. The most significant finding in this most recent study is a change in attitude among major industry players regarding responsibility for their own post-consumer packaging. U.S. companies are finally catching up to their foreign counterparts in their outlook, according to Conrad MacKerron, senior director of As You Sow’s Corporate Responsibility Program.

Only 29% by weight of the 224 billion beverage containers sold every year in the U.S. are recycled, Bevnet.com reported, adding that countries where Extended Producer Responsibility mandates are in place see higher recycling levels.

Though several major beverage brands are making steady improvements in relation to material reduction few have shown commitment to using recycled material, according to Amy Galland, Ph.D., As You Sow’s Research Director and the report’s author. Exceptions included PepsiCo, Inc., which has maintained a steady 10% level of recycled polyethylene terephthalate content in all products sold in the U.S. since 2005. Nestle Waters North America Inc. got the best score on container recovery for having better recovery goals along with strategies for attaining those goals. Major brewing companies, such as Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, refused to participate in the study.

Several beverage companies said they are most likely to endorse a recycling program where recycling fees are set by producers and passed on in the product’s price. They would also like to see the program administered by the industry.

Some of the key findings of the study included the news that The Coca-Cola Co. was not able to live up to its commitment to incorporate 10% rPET across its brands last year. Nestle Waters, however, had succeeded in incorporating 50% rPET in its re-source brand bottles, though the company, a subsidiary of Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA, still lacks a company-wide commitment to rPET.

The report concluded with recommendations, including a call for the industry to place more resources into creating packaging that takes into account a product’s end-of-life, and to use life cycle assessment data when making decisions about packaging.

The primary source of this article is BevNET.com, Watertown, Massachusetts, Aug. 10, 2011.

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