Zero Waste

Setting Our Sights on Zero Beverage Container Waste

Millions of consumers who recycle every day think that because they recycle their bottles and cans, everyone else is recycling too. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Americans waste (landfill, incinerate, or litter) twice as many beverage containers as we recycle.

In 2006, more than 138 billion beverage bottles and cans were not recycled. Nationwide, that’s about 460 per capita— up from 300 per capita just a decade ago. This trend continued in 2010, with more than 153 billion beverage bottles and cans not recycled; at 495 units wasted per capita! In the four years that passed between 2006 and 2010, the percentage of beverage bottles and cans not recycled increased by 10.9%.

There is a great environmental cost to replacing billions of wasted bottles and cans with new containers made from virgin materials: in terms of pollution, energy squandered, and habitats disrupted by mining, drilling, and other industrial activities.

Follow the links to learn more about beverage container waste in the United States, and about things that can be done to achieve Zero Beverage Container Waste—or pretty darn close to zero!



Learn how CRI made a difference in 2023 through high-profile initiatives, legislative analysis and advocacy, and education and collaboration.



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