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[greenyes] Correction to email about "Golden Age of PET Recycling"

Bless me Greenyesers, for I have sinned...... I really am sorry for my
incorrect calculations in an email I posted this morning, and I am
eternally grateful to Elizabeth Royte for politely asking me to explain
why these numbers are different from numbers in a press release we
put out last fall. (Thank you Elizabeth!) The email is reprinted below
with the several mistakes corrected (see parentheses). To more easily
see the corrections I have made the changes in tracker in a word document.
If anyone cares enough about this issue to see that doc please send me
an email.

I will try to be more careful in checking calcs before sending to this
listserve. Mea culpa, mea culpa.


Europe may be in the "Golden Years" of PET recycling....but can it be

The news from Europe that the number of tons of PET bottles recycled
increased by 36% is "good news", to be sure, but it is important to put the
data into perspective. While we know from information passed along to us by
Peter Anderson of RecycleWorlds (see original email below) that the number
of tons of PET recycled increased, we don't know what the increase in PET
bottles sold was. My guess is that PET sales saw a big increase as well,
and thus the recycling rate may not have experienced a huge increase. Even
if the recycling rate did experience a significant increase, one wonders if
it can be sustained. Certainly we have not been able to sustain the PET
recycling rates realized in the United States in the early 1990's.

In 1993 we experienced a 32% increase in PET bottles recycled, from 402 mm
lbs in 1992 (NOT 2002) to 527 mm lbs, and yes, the recycling rate increased
too, from
29% to 34.8%--a significant jump. (Ah, those were the golden years of PET
recycling.) But because the PET bottle sales increased by 10% (from 1388 mm
lbs to 1514 mm lbs) the number of pounds wasted (not recycled) stayed
constant at 987 mm lbs. In other words, gains were made in recycling, but
not in waste reduction.

PET recycling experienced another good year in 1994, when the number of
pounds recycled increased significantly and the recycling rate jumped to a
record 37.5%. Unfortunately, the recycling rate has been in a downward
spiral ever since--falling below 20% in 2002. The more tragic trend has
been the rise in PET bottles wasted , not recycled, from about 1 billion
(NOT 2.1 million tons) wasted in 1994 to 3.2 billion pounds (NOT 6.4 million
tons) wasted in 2002.

The PET bottles not recycled represent a wealth of energy and resources
wasted. The costs to the environment are great and so are the costs to
local governments and taxpayers. PET bottles not recycled also represent a
lost opportunity for PET processors and end users. Companies that cannot
expand their operations, and worse yet, companies that go out of business,
represent a lost opportunity for our economy.

So, Congratulations to Europe on their 36% increase in PET bottles recycled,
and Good Luck in sustaining that increase. If anyone out there has
information on the number of tons of PET sold in Europe in 2002 and 2003
PLEASE send it to me so that we can have a complete picture of the status of
PET recycling in Europe.

Best regards to all,
Pat Franklin

PS To view a powerpoint presentation (not animated) titled "Can the
Downward Trend of PET Recycling be Reversed" go to and scroll down to the bottom of the
page. And, while you're on our Container-Recycling homepage, you might want
to take note of our bottle counter that counts the number of beverage
bottles and cans NOT recycled since January 1, 2004. There is also
information on the page about the precipitous drop in aluminum can recycling
last year--from 48% to 44%. The Golden Years of aluminum can recycling,
too, are behind us.

Patricia Franklin
Executive Director
Container Recycling Institute
1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Ste. 702
Arlington, VA 22209

TEL: 703.276.9800
FAX: 703.276.9587
EMAIL: pfranklin@no.address

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