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[GreenYes] GRRN RELEASE: Beverage Report Could Break Impasse
January 16, 2002
Contact:  Bill Sheehan, 706-613-7121 
Pat Franklin, 703-304-3546 mobile, 703-276-9800


Report Could Break Historic Impasse

(SEATTLE, Wash.)  U.S. environmentalists are 
cheered by a new report on beverage container 
recycling which suggests that we can double the 
recycling of beverage containers - and save 
money at the same time. These were the 
unexpected findings of Understanding Beverage 
Container Recycling: A Value Chain Assessment, 
a study carried out under the watchful eyes of 
both beverage industry and environmental group 

"These findings have the potential to break the 
historic impasse between environmentalists and 
the beverage industry on bottle bills." said 
Bill Sheehan, executive director of the Athens, 
GA-based GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN), 
which worked alongside beverage industry and 
government representatives on the Multi-
stakeholder Recovery Project (MSRP) that 
carried out the study.  "We found ways to 
achieve the environmental performance that we 
want along with the cost-savings that industry 

The data were gathered by leading researchers 
who often work for the beverage industry, under 
the lead of R.W. Beck and Franklin & 
Associates.  Beverage industry leader Coca-Cola 
sponsored and participated in the study along 
with Waste Management Inc. and other industry 

"We are encouraged that some major corporations 
now agree we have a problem -114 billion 
beverage containers wasted annually - and are 
willing to work toward a solution," said Pat 
Franklin, executive director of the Washington 
DC-based Container Recycling Institute and an 
active participant in the in the MSRP.  "The 
report shows we can recover those containers 
with financial incentives -- deposits -- and 
keep the costs down."

The report shows that when deposit systems are 
designed to use revenues from the sale of 
recycled materials and unredeemed deposits 
(deposit money left in the system by consumers 
who do not return their containers), these 
revenues offset program costs significantly.

"In California and several Canadian provinces, 
beverage containers do not have to be sorted by 
brand.  That saves a lot of time and cuts 
costs," said GRRN Board member Rick Best, who 
also helped oversee the study.  "Additional 
cost-savings are realized in many places by the 
use of automated 'reverse vending' machines for 
returning containers."

The ground-breaking study was the first 
accomplishment of a project called Businesses 
and Environmentalists Allied for Recycling 
(BEAR), which is working under Global Green USA 
to pursue a 'fact-based approach to public 
policy making.'

"While cost effective deposit/return systems 
don't take us to GRRN's goal of zero waste 
immediately," Sheehan said, "they create the 
infrastructure that encourages producers to 
move to more sustainable beverage container 
design and management systems, such as the use 
of refillable bottles and recyclable 

CRI and GRRN see the next step as working 
with industry to structure a 'modified deposit/return' 
proposal that takes advantage of these cost 
savings, and working with industry in test states to 
establish or improve optimal deposit systems. 
Ultimately, CRI and GRRN think that a national 
'bottle bill' will be needed to harmonize 
beverage container recycling across the United 


For information on model deposit systems, visit 
GrassRoots Recycling Network ( is 
a North American network of waste reduction 
activists and professionals promoting producer 
responsibility and Zero Waste as critical 
elements of a sustainable economy.  Container 
Recycling Institute (www.container- and  studies 
and promote policies that reduce beverage 
container waste and shift the costs of 
recycling from government and taxpayers to 
producers and consumers.


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