Title: Press release: aluminum can recycling stagnates
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2007
CONTACT: Jenny Gitlitz, CRI Research Dir., Dalton, MA (413) 684-4746
Betty McLaughlin, CRI Executive Dir., Glastonbury, CT (202) 263-0999
Half of all Cans Sold Still Not Recycled:
Piecemeal Programs Fail to Stem Tide of Waste
GLASTONBURY, CT (JUNE 27, 2007)— Half of all aluminum cans purchased by Americans are still making their way into landfills and incinerators, according to the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), a non-profit environmental organization.
“One of every two cans sold is still being trashed,” said CRI Executive Director Betty McLaughlin, “That’s the flip side of a 51.4% recycling rate,” she said, referring to the Aluminum Association’s announcement this morning. “The 2006 rate is down slightly from the 2005 rate of 52.0%, but more importantly, it’s nowhere near what’s been achieved in the past.” The can recycling rate peaked in 1992 at 67.9%, she explained. “We’ve backslid since then, and the trend is not reversing.”
Recent industry efforts to increase recycling in about forty communities have failed to stem the national tide of can waste, according to CRI. Using data from the Aluminum Association, CRI has estimated that 711,780 tons of cans were wasted in 2006, up slightly from the 698,324 tons wasted in 2005.
“Every year we’re taking as much metal as three or four major primary aluminum smelters can produce, and we’re essentially burying it in a hole in the ground,” said CRI Research Director Jenny Gitlitz. “Recycling has stagnated for almost a decade at the national level. It’s unaffected by the highest scrap values in years, and it’s clearly not being influenced by industry-sponsored local programs. Cans for Cash, the Curbside Value Partnership—sure, they might increase local participation or capture rates by 20% here or there,” she said, “but as a program or policy that makes a dent in how we actually recover resources: they’ve been a stunning failure.”
McLaughlin said, “These voluntary programs serve to distract attention from deposits, the single most effective recycling system on the planet. We know that the small incentive of a nickel can recover 65-85% of aluminum cans, while a dime brings back more than 95% of cans in Michigan.” She added that deposit legislation achieves these results without using any taxpayer dollars.
“The Aluminum Association, CMI and ISRI clearly recognize the value of scrap to their industry,” Gitlitz said. “If they’re serious about increasing recovery, they need to look beyond piecemeal efforts to increase curbside recycling in a handful of cities and towns. They need to convince their customers—brand owners including Coke, Pepsi, and Anheuser-Busch—that fighting deposits is no longer acceptable.”
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