JANUARY 2009

Glass recycling rate climbs in United States

New United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data shows the glass recycling rate jumped to 28.1 percent in 2007, up three percentage points from 2006 (25.3 percent). An estimated 3.2 million tons were recovered compared to 2.9 million in 2006. This is the first significant increase since about 2000.

For glass beer and soft drink bottles, the rate was 34.5 percent, a big boost from 30.7 percent in 2006, and 15 percent for wine and liquor bottles (same as 2006). The amount of glass generated remains at 5.3 percent.

“We suspect this increase reflects higher glass bottle recycling rates in California and other states with container deposit programs,” said Joe Cattaneo, Glass Packaging Institute president. There are currently 11 states with some type of consumer deposit legislation in place.

For the six-month period ending June 2008, the California Department of Conservation reports that the glass bottle recycling rate rose to 79 percent, up from 71 percent for the same period in 2007. The overall beverage container recycling rate in California reached 76 percent (7.5 billion containers).

“The glass industry has also worked strategically to encourage glass bottle recycling at bars and restaurants,” said Cattaneo. Glass recycling initiatives at bars and restaurants in Northern Colorado have taken hold. And California has expanded glass collection in some areas to wineries and special events.

In North Carolina, legislation set in motion January 1, 2008 requires all Alcohol Beverage Control permit holders, primarily bars and restaurant, to recycle glass and plastic bottles and cans. Since then, total annualized tons of containers collected are nearly 34,000 according to the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance.