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[GreenYes] Recyclers' Analysis of Barrier and Amber-Tinted PET Bottles
    The Plastic Redesign Project, a multi-state coalition of local and state
public recycling officials, has released its technical report evaluating the
economic impact of the first generation of barrier and amber tinted PET
bottles on local recycling programs, "PET Barriers, Tints and Recycling:
Challenges and Potential Impacts on the RPET Stream.  The Executive Summary
can be found at our website,, and copies of the full
report can be purchased from Packaging Strategies, or

    The report concludes that the first generation bottles, if rolled out in
the marketplace to more than one-fourth its full potential, are expected to
substantially increase net costs to recyclers by approximately 2.3 - 5.9
cents per pound. This compares to an average price for mixed PET bales over
the commodity cycle of approximately 8 cents per pound. That penalty
represents both the negative impact of that barrier material in the clear
bottle stream when its saturation is greater than the threshold of concern
(and where test results indicate it will cause the flake to become too
yellow for bottle-to-bottle recycling), and also the impact of additional
sorting and revenue losses from the amber tint.

    The reason why this analysis finds these significant cost concerns,
while earlier statements suggested that there are no impacts on recyclers,
is because those earlier statements appear to have focused on the current
situation in which these bottles have only begun to appear in trace
quantities substantially less than 3%.  Our analysis, on the other hand, is
predicated on the impacts that can be expected when the new bottles are
rolled out into the marketplace, because, now is the only time, before major
commitments have been made, to educate bottle designers about recyclers'

    As to future prospects, the report notes that, separate from recycling
concerns, the first generation bottles are expensive to produce, and, at
least in the beer market outside of sports stadiums (and the riot last
weekend in Cleveland even jeopardizes that non-price sensitive market), that
premium price has significantly impeded their acceptance. There is a
significant probability that a second or later generation bottle will
eventually dominate the market, and, if recyclers express their concerns
intelligently and constructively, they may encourage package designers to
find new technologies that meet brewers' and others' front end requirements
without adversely impacting those handling the discarded bottles at the back

    One way to express those concerns is with regard to the appropriate SPI
number code to place on the bottle.  Many states have statutes or rules that
specify the criteria that must be met before a number 1 (PET) may be used.
Some, for example, would seem to proscribe any multilayer container from
bearing a no. 1, and others would seem to require actual recyclability with
monolayer PET before a no. 1 can be applied to a barrier bottle.

    The unique attribute of this report is that, for the first time, an
objective and quantifiable protocol has been specified to project the
economic impact of barrier and tinted PET bottles.  It is important to note
in this regard that, since the release of the report, neither the APC,
NAPCOR, APR, nor any of the barrier suppliers has publicly criticized that
methodology, nor the application of the protocols to the first generation
barrier bottle.

    Anyone involved in enforcing these standards, or interested in working
with the appropriate agencies in interpreting them, are encouraged to
contact me, as is anyone else with any questions, concerns or comments.

                                                            Peter Anderson,
Project Director
                                                            PLASTIC REDESIGN

Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 231-1100
Fax (608) 233-0011

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