[GRRN] Recycled Content - Media - FYI

RecycleWorlds (anderson@msn.fullfeed.com)
Fri, 28 May 1999 15:42:18 -0500




T O D A Y ' S N E W S A N D A N A L Y S I S...

Container Recycling-a Practice Losing

I was struck, perusing the Jan.-Feb. issue of RecycleScene,
by the publication's carrying in that single issue three
separate stories calling on Coca Cola to use its dominant
(44%) market-share position to set a PET bottle recycling
example for others in the industry.
As one of the RecycleScene's contributing authors put it,
"Coke can force the PET manufacturers to produce the
container it wants…[and] the industry will follow."
According to the three RecycleScene authors appealing to
Coke, the company owes it to the public-not its bottom
line-to reverse a deteriorating container-recycling market
in the U.S. brought about by a growing favoritism for
virgin PET, rather than glass or aluminum-or even
recycled PET.
Another of the authors writes that, according to the
Container Recycling Institute (CRI)--a non-profit,
education organization that studies container and packaging
waste issues--an estimated 10-billion plastic Coke bottles
were sold during 1998 in the U.S., more than six billion of
which were disposed of at taxpayer expense.
The group is calling on Mr. M. Doug Ivester, chairman and
CEO of Coca-Cola, to recycle old bottles into new to
reduce the waste going to landfills and incinerators and
save municipal governments what CRI estimates is tens of
millions of dollars a year in disposal costs.
According to CRI, the Coca-Cola Company alone could
keep about 200-million pounds of soda bottles out of the
waste stream during 1999 by using just 25% recycled
content in its plastic bottles.
A third RecycleScene author amplifies, quoting a recycling
authority: "Soft drinks packaged in plastic, particularly in
the recently introduced 20-oz. bottles, are adding to the
waste stream 10 times faster than the growth of recycling
of soda bottles."
According to the authority, cost-effective technologies
approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are
available to Coke. It would cost about one-tenth penny
more to use 25% recycled plastic in a 20-oz. bottle.
It is ironic that Coke's prediction for PET, made in the
early '90s, would turn on itself. The company reportedly
told the recycling industry that the PET bottle was the
container of the future. Indeed, the prediction is being
However, Coke also announced to the recycling industry
that it would use recycled PET for future containers.
Instead as virgin PET prices dropped below recycled PET
prices, Coke bought virgin. As it did, the recycling
industry's investment in the infrastructure needed to
provide the PET supply that Coke was going to need has
languished and, piecemeal, over the last decade, shutdown.
However, if Coke won't take the initiative, perhaps
government will. California is one of several states with a
container deposit system that supports recycling. And at
the local level, some communities are making their
residents pay for the privilege of discarding used bottles
and cans.

Peter Anderson
RecycleWorlds Consulting
4513 Vernon Blvd. Ste. 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Phone:(608) 231-1100/Fax: (608) 233-0011