Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Fri, 5 Feb 1999 14:08:59 -0500

UPDATE on the campaign to get Miller Brewing Company
to redesign its new plastic beer bottle being testmarketed in
five cities.
- The CITY OF LOS ANGELES passed the Miller resolution
last Tuesday (February 2nd) by a vote of 11-0. The text is
posted on the GRRN web site (www.grrn.org) under

- The Mayor of MADISON WISCONSIN sent the following
letter to Miller Brewing Company. It too is posted on our
web site.

Office of the Mayor
City of Madison, Wisconsin

February 1, 1999

Mr. John N. MacDonough
Miller Brewing Co.
3939 W. Highland Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0482

Dear Mr. MacDonough,

It has come to my attention that the Miller Brewing
Company is test marketing a new plastic beer bottle. I write
to bring to your attention several problems this container
poses for the city of Madison's recycling efforts and to urge
you to reconsider its use.

The plastic beer bottle currently being test marketed
contains a number of features that are detrimental to
recycling. First and perhaps the biggest problem is the
bottle's amber color. Currently, purchasers of our recycled
plastic materials do not accept amber bottles and they show
no intention of doing so in the future. That means we
probably cannot recycle them. Unfortunately, the markings
on your bottle suggest that customers can recycle them and,
surely, many will attempt to do so. City staff at our
recycling facility will have to separate these containers from
the rest of the material and dispose of them. That, of
course, will raise the cost of our operation.

Unfortunately, the problems with the test market bottle go
beyond its color. For instance, the bottle is sealed with an
aluminum cap instead of plastic. This aluminum cap is
nearly impossible to remove during the recycling process.
The bottle label also contains metal. In both cases these
materials will remain in the recycled plastic. They are
significant contaminants that will reduce value of the
material and may render it unusable.

In addition, the new plastic bottle contains a polymer barrier
that is necessary to enhance the product's shelf life. Studies
suggest this barrier material remains in the plastic when it is
recycled and can cause problems for recycling. The
problem is serious enough to have prompted a warning from
purchasers of our recycled materials that they will reduce
the price they pay for our baled plastic if and when these
bottles begin to appear.

The City of Madison has made a tremendous investment of
effort and resources toward developing our recycling
program. It has been as popular as it is successful,
preserving both tax dollars and landfill space. By packaging
your product in easy to recycle glass and aluminum
containers, Miller Brewing Company has contributed to that

The introduction of the bottle will undermine Madison's
success by lowering the value and appeal of our recycled
materials. Based on our experience with single serve soda
bottles, it is also likely to increase the amount of material
disposed in our landfills. I have every reason to believe the
impact will not be the same elsewhere. These consequences
leave the City little alternative but to inform our customers
that we will not accept these containers in our recycling
program. They will also likely prompt public education
efforts designed to discourage the use of the containers in
favor of glass and aluminum packaging.

Surely your firm has sound reasons to consider the
introduction of these new bottles. I hope, nonetheless, you
will consider the problems they pose for recycling efforts in
Madison and other communities across the state. I hope
you will withdraw them from the market.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Susan J.M. Bauman

Cc: Governor Tommy G. Thompson
Representative Spencer Black