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[GreenYes] RE: Wall Street Journal article on recycling
* A note of clarification regarding the "people are too busy to recycle" 
quote in the Wall Street Journal article today: What I really said to the 
reporter was that away-from-home consumption is increasing, that there are 
few opportunities to recycle away from home, especially in non-deposit states 
where there is no financial incentive to recycle cans, and that most people 
are too busy to take the cans they buy away from home back to their 
residential curbside bins.  Most of that got lost.  

* I did tell the reporter that while some glass collected in curbside 
programs may be landfilled, that didn't pertain to aluminum at all.

* It is also a shame the reporter did not cite any of the environmental 
impacts from can wasting and replacement.  To learn more about these impacts, 
please order the report: Trashed Cans: The Global Environmental Impacts of 
Aluminum Can Wasting in America"  by returning the form below, or order over 
website next week:

Yes, I would like to order the report “Trashed Cans: The Global
Environmental Impacts of Aluminum Can Wasting in America”!

Enclosed is my check, made payable to:
Container Recycling Institute
1911 North Fort Myer Drive Suite 702
Arlington, Virginia  22209-1603

___ $20 Public interest non-profit organizations
___ $40 Government and small business (Gross annual revenue under $250,000)
___ $60 Trade associations, large businesses and corporations (Gross annual 
                revenue over $250,000)
   (Price includes shipping & handling)
       * Call CRI for student rates

Name    ________________________________________________________
Affiliation ____________________________________________________
Address 1   ____________________________________________________
Address 2   ____________________________________________________
City, State, Zip    ________________________________________________
Tel. (      )   ____________________________________________________
Fax (      )    ____________________________________________________
E-mail  _______________________________________________________

Jennifer Gitlitz

Senior Research Associate, Container Recycling Institute

Home office:

1010 Pleasant St.

Worcester, MA 01602

Phone: (508) 793-8516

eFax: (928) 833-0460


Container Recycling Institute
1911 Ft Myer Drive, Suite 702
Arlington, Virginia  22209
Phone: (703) 276-9800  
Fax 703.276.9587


High Cost of Compliance Prompts

Some Cities to Dump Parts of Plans



"WASHINGTON -- The fizz has gone out of the recycling business.

For the first time in more than 20 years, Americans are throwing away more

aluminum cans than they recycle . Environmental groups and industry groups

alike see it as an ill omen for the rest of the recycling business because

aluminum soft-drink and beer cans are the single most valuable consumer

commodity being recycled .

"While polls show Americans overwhelmingly support recycling , the data show

they are doing it less than they did in the early 1990s. "People are just

too busy," says Jennifer Gitlitz, research director for the Container

Recycling Institute, a nonprofit group here that is releasing the recycling

data Tuesday.

Statistics compiled by the National Soft Drink Association also show

consumers wasting more glass and plastic bottles -- even though municipal

recycling programs now serve 140 million people, triple the 1990 number.

"What's going on? Robin King, a vice president of the Aluminum Association,

blames the economic boom of the late 1990s. "Historically, good economies

don't encourage recycling ," he says. Low scrap values, he adds, are forcing

budget-strapped cities to reach a "decision point" about whether to trash

some of the items they collect in curbside recycling bags and boxes. The

industry suspects that some of the material collected by municipal recycling

programs actually ends up in landfills.


And more cans are emptied away from home, Ms. Gitlitz says. Americans tend

to recycle more at home than at the office or on the road. Last year, 49% of

the aluminum cans sold in the U.S. were recycled ; a decade earlier, 60%


The decline of recycling has registered in widely differing places. Mayor

Michael Bloomberg told New Yorkers last month that the city would stop

picking up plastic and glass. "The fact of the matter," he told reporters,

"was that it was phenomenally expensive, and most of it ended up being

dumped in a landfill anyway."

Ford Schumann runs a small recycling business in Chestertown, on Maryland's

Eastern Shore. He is seeing a lot fewer school groups, hikers and small bar

owners who used to bring him loads of cans: "Some of them say it's just not

worth it anymore." While the price of aluminum scrap has dropped to 20 cents

a pound from 60 cents, the amount of aluminum in each can, he explains, has

dropped by almost half, forcing scavengers to collect as many as six times

the amount of cans to get the reward they used to get.

While he continues to run a curbside operation that also collects glass,

plastic and paper, Mr. Schumann says he can understand why some cities and

private trash haulers now treat it all as garbage. "When the price gets this

low, it's an easy way to improve their bottom line."

But even in states with container-deposit laws, recycling rates for the

bellwether cans are declining. For example, in Michigan, which requires a

10-cent deposit, more than 90% of aluminum cans are returned. But even there

and in other states -- which charge an average five-cent deposit --

recycling rates for the bellwether cans are declining.

"If there ever was a commodity that begged for recycling , it's aluminum,"

says Allen Hershkowitz, a recycling expert for the Natural Resources Defense

Council. Because it takes a lot of electricity to make aluminum, the latent

energy savings alone in the 760,000 tons of aluminum cans trashed last year,

accog to the Container Recycling Institute, could light up Chicago,

Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco and Seattle for a year.

Under the current system, Mr. Hershkowitz says, cities pay the costs of

recycling , but don't necessarily get the rewards, such as cleaner air,

lower-cost electricity or a reduced burden on landfills. He thinks the

answer is a new federal law, proposed by Sen. James M. Jeffords (I., Vt.),

who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. A measure that

committee will take up this week would set a national refundable deposit of

10 cents on a beverage container and require producers to reach an 80%

recycling rate.

The beverage industry, which lobbies against what it calls "forced deposit"

laws wherever they are proposed, is gearing up to fight. Richard F. Keating,

a vice president of Anheuser-Busch Cos., asserts the national deposit will

further undermine municipal programs by depriving them of aluminum cans,

their most valuable commodity. Rather than putting them in the curbside

containers, he asserts, consumers will take them back to the store to

collect the deposit.

Mr. Keating argues that voluntary recycling programs are best. "Congress has

consistently rejected this proposal, and we are confident they will do so


Write to John J. Fialka at

Updated July 9, 2002


Peter Anderson


4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15

Madison, WI 53705

Ph:    (608) 231-1100

Fax:   (608) 233-0011

Cell:   (608) 345-0381


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