beverage producers support extended producer responsibility efforts
Several major United States beverage brands
would support new laws making producers financially responsible
for collection and recycling of post-consumer beverage packaging,
according to a new report assessing corporate progress on recycling
released by shareholder advocacy group As You Sow.
The new report, “Waste & Opportunity: U.S. Beverage Container
Recycling Scorecard and Report,” is As You Sow’s third review
of the beverage industry since 2006. Nestlé Waters North America
received the highest ranking, followed closely by PepsiCo, The
Coca-Cola Company, and Red Bull. All four received a letter grade
The report discusses new efforts by several
companies to promote Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) mandates
to reverse lagging United States bottle and can recycling rates.
“The major development since our last survey
has been the willingness of leading beverage companies to consider
new legislative mandates requiring them to take responsibility
for their post-consumer packaging,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior
director of As You Sow’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program.
“Many beverage and consumer packaged goods
companies pay fees in other countries to finance recovery of
their packaging. It’s significant that companies are finally
acknowledging the need to take responsibility in the United States
Of the 224 billion beverage containers sold annually in the United
States only 29 percent by weight are recycled; the rest are landfilled
or incinerated, resulting in a huge waste of natural resources.
In Europe and Canada, where EPR laws are in place, far higher
levels of containers are recovered.
The report is based on original research and scores companies
on key performance areas in packaging. Grades were based on information
submitted by companies who responded to the survey. Those who
did not respond were scored based on publicly available information.
“Several leading beverage companies continue to make steady incremental
progress on source reduction but have not demonstrated strong
commitments to using recycled content – a significant driver
in reducing the environmental impact of packaging,” said Amy
Galland, Ph.D., As You Sow’s research director and author of
the study. Only PepsiCo maintains a consistent level of 10 percent
recycled PET in all product lines sold in the United States since
2005. Nestlé Waters received the highest score on container recovery
for having better recovery goals and stated tactical strategies
for attaining them than its peers and it, along with PepsiCo
and Red Bull, has stated industry-wide recovery goals.
Brewing companies were notably absent from the survey participants;
Anheuser Busch refused to participate. The company received the
second highest score in the 2008 edition of the report.
Several survey respondents said that in developing a recycling
program, they are most likely to support programs that set recycling
fees paid by producers or importers that are included in the
price of the product and administered by industry.
The Coca-Cola Company, historically opposed to container deposit
systems, indicated it is now “neutral” on a deposit system administered
by an independent third party, an apparent softening of its position.
Since As You Sow’s 2008 “Waste & Opportunity” report, there
have not been significant increases in recycled content:
- PepsiCo continues to have the highest use of rPET, 10 percent
across all product lines, with a commitment to maintain and increase
- Coca-Cola was unable to meet a commitment to use 10 percent
rPET across its product lines in 2010.
- New Belgium Brewing Company currently uses 50 percent recycled
glass, the highest reported, in its 22 oz bottles.
- Nestlé Waters uses 50 percent recycled PET in its re-source™
brand bottles, but lacks a company-wide commitment for reprocessed
PET or rPET.