RE: [GRRN] plastic vs aluminum

Anne Morse (AMorse@NT1.Co.Winona.MN.US)
Thu, 18 Nov 1999 13:06:45 -0600

Cheri and John and all;

You're not alone. What you're dealing with is happening all across the
country, and the impact of this packaging change is harming recycling
programs everywhere. The soft drink industry's big increase in profit is in
this case directly translated into your/our loss. The highest value
material we recycle is being substituted for packaging of the very lowest
value. Personally, I think the impact on recycling programs must be
factored into the process when the decision is made to change packaging.

However, there is nothing preventing your agency or institution from
specifying that containers dispensed in vending machines on your property
must have at least 25% recycled content! In fact, in the spirit of America
Recycles Day, we think that requiring recycled content wherever it is
possible is absolutely essential. Let's make sure that people can buy
recycled in our vending machines!

By way of explanation, plastic soda bottles don't yet have recycled content
of any significance, (Coke has recently changed the story it feeds the
public, and claims to be testing recycled content to the tune of a little
over a tenth of one percent, while Pepsi uses none at all), whereas aluminum
cans have a recycled content of about 50%!

On a related note, GRRN is in the process of interviewing staff at college
and university campuses where the switch from aluminum and direct dispensing
to plastic is also being made. We are comparing the methods and terms that
were negotiated by individual campuses when the changeover was made. Our
intent is to help those institutions which have not yet gone to single-serve
plastic bottles to negotiate favorable terms. We hope to have results to
pass on to Greenyes listserve members by early December, so that we can all
have the benefit of knowing what sorts of terms can and are be negotiated.

What's clear already is that those schools and universities that took a
systems approach to evaluating the impact of the switchover were the
campuses that negotiated the sweetest deals for themselves. It's interesting
how much the concessions vary from campus to campus.

If anyone who has already been through this process would like to share
their experiences, feel free to respond to this posting by the end of
November. We'd like the survey to be as large and broad-based as possible.

Thanks to you both for communicating your concerns,

Anne Morse
Winona County Recycling
Winona, MN 55987
ph 507.457.6468

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kennedy Cheri L DLVA [SMTP:KennedyCL@NSWC.NAVY.MIL]
> Sent: Thursday, November 18, 1999 9:29 AM
> To: multiple recipients of
> Cc: ''
> Subject: RE: [GRRN] plastic vs aluminum
> I don't have any answers for you John, just wanted to echo what you said.
> I
> work at a Navy Base and the Navy Exchange has been replacing all the
> aluminum can dispensing machines with bottles. When I asked them if they
> had performed any kind of environmental impact study before making this
> decision, they looked at me like I was crazy.... And stated that it was
> purely an economical decision. They said that their marketing folks had
> determined they could make a bigger profit... unfortunately I do not yet
> recycle plastic here because I still do not have a facility to operate out
> of. (The Navy is downsizing, getting money for new programs is
> laughable...) We collect paper products in closed top 40 cubic yd
> roll-offs
> and haul 75 miles to the nearest buyer. We're very rural and there's no
> way
> I could generate enough plastic to make the effort worthwhile. Boooooo.
> *************************************************
> Cheri L. Kennedy, CD287, Solid Waste Program Manager
> Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division
> 17320 Dahlgren Rd, Dahlgren, VA 22448-5100
> Phone: 540-653-2342 Fax: 540-653-2339
> *************************************************
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: John Lavery []
> > Sent: Friday, November 12, 1999 8:02 PM
> > To: multiple recipients of
> > Subject: [GRRN] plastic vs aluminum
> >
> > Hi, I know there has been a lot of discussion on this list about soft
> > drink packaging - A large institution that I work with is reviewing a
> > tender for 40 soft drink machines. At present these machines carry
> > aluminum cans. There is a recycling program set up for these cans, and
> > the institution receives some revenue from this recycling. The new
> > tender wants to replace the machines with 600 ml plastic bottles.
> > Recycling of these bottles will be cost neutral at best and may actually
> >
> > cost, because the bottles have to be shipped quite far (often to the US
> > from Canada). Does anyone have any thoughts, or comments on this
> > proposed change? Are there significant environmental impact differences
> >
> > between using the aluminum as opposed to the plastic? Any info you can
> > provide would be greatly appreciated.
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > John
> >
> > --
> > John Lavery
> > Coordinator
> > Manitoba Green Procurement Network Inc.
> > c/o NA325 Environmental Protection
> > Health Sciences Centre
> > 820 Sherbrook Street
> > Winnipeg, MB R3A 1R9
> >
> > (204) 787-2767 (phone)
> > (204) 787-4854 (fax)
> > (204) 793-4016 (cell - the best way to reach me!)
> >
> >
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