Beverage companies lack fizz in recycling,
San Francisco, CA— Major United States beverage
companies received failing grades in a study of the recycling performance
of their containers.
“Waste and Opportunity: U.S. Beverage Container
Recycling Scorecard and Report”, a report card on the beverage
industry’s recycling efforts released by corporate social
responsibility group As You Sow and Container Recycling Institute,
gave PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. the highest grades; both earned a
C. All other companies scored D- or F with Cadbury Schweppes, Cott
and National Beverage performing worst.
“Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have shown some
leadership by using 10% recycled content in plastic bottles and
promising to work with competitors toward setting beverage container
recovery goals,” said As You Sow research director Nishita
Bakshi, author of the report. “However, most other companies
have done little to nothing to significantly improve recycling rates.”
American consumers purchase over 500 million beverage
bottles and cans, on average, every day. Only one-third are recycled
while two-thirds are landfilled, incinerated or littered. This results
in major pollution and energy impacts, and depletion of aluminum
ore and petroleum resources.
Producing containers using virgin resources increases
greenhouse gas emissions. If the current container recycling rate
of 34% were increased to 80%, avoided greenhouse gas emissions would
be equivalent to taking 2.4 million cars off the road for one year,
the report said.
The report evaluated 12 leading beverage companies
including the top five carbonated soft drink manufacturers, Coca-Cola
Co, Pepsi Cola North America, Cadbury Schweppes, Cott Corp. and
National Beverage, the top three bottled water manufacturers, PepsiCo,
Coca-Cola and Nestlé Waters North America, and the top three
beer companies, Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing and Coors Brewing,
as well as New Belgium Breweries, Polar Beverages and Starbucks.
“There has been insufficient action by the
beverage industry to significantly increase beverage container recovery,”
said Conrad MacKerron, director of the group’s Corporate Social
Responsibility Program. “Bottled water sales have grown nearly
700% in the last 8 years, yet stand-alone water companies have shown
no leadership in using recycled content or improving recycling rates.”
“Beverage sales jumped five-fold in the
last 30 years while container recycling rates have dropped from
53% in 1992 to 34% in 2004,” said Patricia Franklin, executive
director of Container Recycling Institute (CRI). “Each year
we are producing more beverages but recycling a smaller portion
of those containers.” CRI partnered with As You Sow in producing
The report was undertaken to provide current data
on recycling efforts for consumers, investors and other corporate
stakeholders. “As institutional investors, we believe it is
important for this information to be compiled so that we are able
to measure company performance over time and relative to industry
peers,” said Kenneth Scott, portfolio manager at Walden Asset
Management, a socially responsive investment firm. As You Sow and
Walden have filed shareholder proposals with Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo
to encourage them to improve their performance on recycled content
and container recovery.
The recycling report makes five recommendations
for beverage companies to reduce environmental impact: use higher
levels of recycled content in their bottles; set a national beverage
container recovery goal, support public policies and voluntary measures
that increase recycling; develop design innovations leading to less
packaging material; and publicly report on their progress to stakeholders.
The report is found at www.container-recycling.org/publications/scorecard.htm.