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[GreenYes] Plastic Beer Bottle Reply
Jeffrey W. Aluotto from the Hamiliton County Solid Waste Management District
asked about issues associated with recycling plastic beer bottles from

The issue may be addressed in terms of its short term context today vs. the
long term consequences tomorrow.

TODAY.  At this time, there are very few plastic beer bottles, certainly
less than 3-5% of incoming plastic bottles. If you are dealing with amber
beer bottles, my assumption would be that most processors will have them
pulled at the front of the line with other contaminants that fall within
that range. When amber bottles reach a critical mass to be too numerous to
discard with other contaminants, then long term issues arise (below).  If
you are dealing with clear beer bottles, they will not be discarded as
contaminants, and, at their small numbers, the non-PET barrier material will
be too small a fraction of the total clear PET bottles to adversely impact

TOMORROW.  In the future, if amber bottles become more prevalent, there will
be very serious cost issues associated with the necessity to undertake an
additional sort, especially for a bottle with a, most likely, frail and low
end market. (see for an analysis of that issue which
was reported on in this month's issue of Beverage World). If clear barrer
bottles become common, not only in beer, but in fruit drinks and possibly 12
oz. carbonated soft drink PET bottles, then the possibility exists that the
clear stream would become so contaminated that the end product would have a
yellow cast that would preclude its use in high paying sheet and bottle

    The $64,000 question is how common will barrier bottles made with the
nylon MXD-6 and amber bottles become in the future, and whether recyclers,
while recognizing the need for packagers to continually innovate, convince
them to continue pushing technology to find win/win solutions for both of
us.  If recyclers simply and suppinely accept whatever package change is
introduced, however, and do not seem to educate packagers about recyclers'
needs, then the end result could compromise the continued future of plastics
recycling by undermining its economics.


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

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