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[GreenYes] Bottle-to-Bottle Recycling
Amy asks:

"Why would BAER want more plastic used in bottles? Don't they want them
available for carpet? Wouldn't soda bottles be a competing use? Are they
hoping that coke and other beverage companies will support a bottle bill if
they have to find enough clean PET for their own use?"

    There are two reasons why more bottle-to-bottle recycling may be expected to, over time, increase the price paid for RPET bales back to community programs (where markets are competitive), and thereafter, if sustained and sufficient, increase supply of RPET:

    (1) Increase aggregate demand for RPET.  The current fiber markets for RPET sourced from the US are approximately 571 million pounds (if the 118 million pounds exported are assumed to go into fiber in Asia). Current bottle markets for US RPET are approximately 118 million pounds, much of which presumably is driven by the California Rigid Container law currently requiring 25% content in non-food bottles (there are approximately 300 million pounds of PET in non-food bottles sold in the US), with some in beverage bottles driven by Coke.  Another 183 million pounds went into sheet and strapping markets. In terms of virgin production, there were 2,763 million pounds of PET in food/beverage bottles last year. If 10% of that was recycled, that would increase demand by 276 million pounds, and at 25%, by 691 million pounds of new demand for RPET. Increased demand tends to translate into increased price paid, in this market up to a "plastic" ceiling of the price paid for virgin.

    (2) Increase the Proportion Into High End Markets.  Currently, bottle markets tends to pay approximately 7 cents more per pound than fiber markets, in comparison to the 8-9 cents per pound trended price paid for RPET bales (highest and best use).

    The issue that needs to be resolved is whether there is an optimal bottle content level that would maximize price gain to local recycling programs, minimize disruption for fiber markets, and minimize cost impacts for packagers.  At the Plastic Redesign Project, we are examining this issue.


Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 231-1100/Fax (608) 233-0011

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