The American Beverage Association and its three biggest members are working to improve bottle recycling rates with a new $100 million program to modernize infrastructure and build public awareness.
Despite the proliferation of recycling bins everywhere from offices to airports to street corners, only about a third of plastic bottles produced in the U.S. actually get recycled. That’s a number that the American Beverage Association and its three largest members intend to increase with a major new initiative.
“Every Bottle Back,” a $100 million joint campaign coordinated by ABA and funded by the Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr. Pepper, and PepsiCo, Inc., will work to reduce the overall “plastic footprint,” invest in modernizing recycling infrastructure and making it more widely available, and boost awareness and messaging about the importance of recycling.
“Consumers in many cases like the convenience of our plastic bottles, but they are rightfully frustrated when they see a bottle on the beach or in a trash can,” ABA President and CEO Katherine Lugar told the Associated Press. “It’s clear that our recycling system needs big improvements, so consumers know their efforts are going to make a difference.”
A goal of the campaign is to reduce the amount of new plastic used in manufacturing bottles. “Our plastic bottles are made to be remade. We are carefully designing them to be 100 percent recyclable–even the caps,” ABA says on the campaign website. “Our goal is for every bottle to become a new bottle, and not end up in oceans, rivers, beaches and landfills. And that means we are using less new plastic.”
A series of matching grants and other investors will make available an additional $300 million in funds. The money will be distributed through two partner organizations: The Recycling Partnership, which works with local governments, and Closed Loop Partners, which invests in recycling facilities and research. “The investments will be used to improve sorting, processing, and collection in areas with the biggest infrastructure gaps to help increase the amount of recycled plastic available to be remade into beverage bottles,” according to an ABA news release.
The World Wildlife Fund will assist with measuring the program’s progress.
“Our industry recognizes the serious need to reduce new plastic in our environment, and we want to do our part to lead with innovative solutions,” Lugar said. “Our bottles are designed to be remade, and that is why this program is so important. We are excited to partner with the leading environmental and recycling organizations to build a circular system for the production, use, recovery, and remaking of our bottles.”