[GRRN] Take Action on Miller's Plastic Beer Bottle

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Wed, 27 Jan 1999 05:30:54 -0500

[The note below is from a high school student in New Orleans whose
environmental club wants to write Miller about their new plastic beer bottle.
The reply gives info from GRRN's web site for taking action.]

-----Original Message-----
From: Lilly Rowland <queeg_queg@hotmail.com>
To: zerowaste@GRRN.org <zerowaste@GRRN.org>
Date: Wednesday, January 27, 1999 12:08 AM
Subject: Miller bottling info

This is Lilly Rowland. I called you earlier today (the 26th) to
get information about Miller's new plastic beer bottles and their
compliance with current recycling programs. I am looking for an address
to write to, encouraging compliance. I am the newsletter editor for an
environmental group at my school and we look for suitable topics to
write letters about. If you have any other suggestions, maybe you could
send them along with the other information. I found information about
this, along with your name on "Environmental News Net", although I'm
not sure of the address.
Thanks for the information.
Lilly Rowland

Dear Lily,
Thanks for writing. It is great to hear that high school students in New
Orleans 'get it' and want to take action to stop large corporations from
jeopardizing recycling. The information below is from the Fact Sheet on
Miller's new plastic beer bottle under WASTEMAKER Advisory on our web site

Bill Sheehan
Network Coordinator
GrassRoots Recycling Network


Recycling advocates, public officials and consumers in the six test market
areas and around the country should let Miller know that it must take
responsibility for its new bottle. Miller must ensure that if and when the
bottle is rolled out nationally, it will be made compatible with the current
recycled PET streams and will not increase the costs for local governments and

You can help send a message to the Miller Brewing Company that it can not
disregard the impacts its new package has on our recycling programs by taking
the following actions:

1. Write a letter to Miller Brewing Company: Let Miller know that it should
not roll out the new package, and that you will not buy it, until the company
takes responsibility for its impacts on the waste stream. Address your
concerns to:

John N. MacDonough
Chief Executive Officer
Miller Brewing Company
3939 W. Highland Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0482
Phone: (414) 931-2000
Fax: (414) 931-3735

Please send copies of your letter to:
-- Dan Barthold, Director of Environmental & Energy Engineering, Miller
Brewing Co. (same address).
-- GrassRoots Recycling Network, P.O. Box 49283, Athens, GA 30604.
-- Plastics News, 814 National Press Blvd, Washington, DC 20046.
-- Beverage World, 226 26th Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10001.
-- Your local newspaper.

2. Work to pass a resolution: You can pass an organizational, local
government or state-wide resolution calling on Miller to commit that its new
bottle will (1) be compatible with the current recycled PET stream, (2)
include recycled content, and (3) not impose additional costs on local
governments, taxpayers, or PET recyclers. A model resolution is available
from GRRN.

3. Educate the Public: Inform consumers that they should not buy or use the
Miller plastic bottle until the company takes responsibility for its


What is alarming is Miller's lack of attention to the needs of recycling.
Miller's decisions, by its own admission, have been driven primarily by
marketing, with insufficient regard given to the impacts of the bottle on the
recycling stream. The bottles are now finding their way into recycling
programs in the test markets and those programs do not have the capacity to
sort, market, or otherwise process the containers. So, the bottles are either
contaminating the PET stream, or being thrown away. And, Miller has made no
commitment to aid in the development of mechanisms to adapt our recycling
systems to accommodate their new bottle once it goes national.

The GrassRoots Recycling Network is urging that Miller make the following
commitments before rolling out the new plastic bottle nationwide:

1. Ensure that the Miller bottle is compatible with current PET recycling.
2. Ensure that the bottle will not increase costs for local governments and
3. Remove the #1 PETE SPI Code designation (and use #7 Other) until the bottle
has been demonstrated to be compatible with the PET recycling.
4. Use at least 25 percent recycled content in all bottles.

The choice is clear. Miller can shirk its responsibility, saddle taxpayers
and local governments with additional costs and disposal burdens, and drive a
nail in the coffin of the PET recycling industry. Or, it can take
responsibility for its innovation, ensure that its bottle is compatible with
the current PET recycling system and doesn’t add any costs to recycling

Bill Sheehan
Network Coordinator
GrassRoots Recycling Network
P.O. Box 49283
Athens GA 30604-9283
Tel: 706-613-7121
Fax: 706-613-7123