Container Recycling Institute Issues Beverage Industry Watch

News Release

Container Recycling Institute
1911 Ft. Myer Drive, Suite 900
Arlington, Virginia 22209
703/276-9800 fax 276-9587


March 1, 1996

CONTACT: Pat Franklin
(202) 797 - 6839

Container Recycling Institute Issues Beverage Industry Watch

WASHINGTON, DC (March 1, 1996) -- The Container Recycling Institute (CRI), a nonprofit research and education organization that studies alternatives for recovering beverage containers, issued an analysis of beverage industry promotional materials being circulated by The National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) on behalf of the major soft drink companies. NSDA released figures that boast 48 billion soda cans and bottles recycled in the U.S. in 1994, out of 78 billion containers sold.

According to CRI spokesperson, Pat Franklin, there is an element of truth to NSDA's figures, but she insists that they present only one side of the recycling story and accuses NSDA of trying to put a positive spin on the hundreds of thousands of tons of waste generated by the soft drink industry each year. "It's a solid waste, " said Franklin, "and what's worse, the estimated 30 billion soda cans and bottles that end up in our landfills and on our beaches, parklands and city streets each year, represent a needless waste of energy and natural resources."

Franklin claims that the recycling rate for soft drink containers would be closer to 80 or 90% if the beverage industry instituted a deposit system to recover their cans and bottles. She says it is the high beverage container recovery rates in deposit states that are pulling up the national recycling rates for glass, aluminum and PET plastic, and that without the ten deposit states, the soft drink container recycling rate would be a lot lower than NSDA's 61% estimate. "What's so great about a 61% anyway?" she continued, "61% was an "F" when I was in school."

Franklin says Coke and Pepsi discredit the deposit system because it forces them to assume responsibility for their waste. "The soft drink companies promote curbside recycling," she said, "because those programs are funded with taxpayer dollars." She acknowledges that curbside recycling programs deserve some credit for beverage container recovery, but points out that the number of people served by curbside recycling in the U.S. increased by 175% between 1990 and 1994, and NSDA's figures show that the soft drink container recycling rate increased by less than 30% during that same period.

Pointing to the fact that the leading soft drink franchisers, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, hold 75% of the soft drink market, Franklin says one could assume that an estimated 20 billion Coke and Pepsi cans and bottles are burned, buried or littered every year in the US "That's about 60 million a day, over 2 million each hour, 40,000 every minute that are NOT recycled," she said.

Franklin says the public should challenge the soft drink giants to take responsibility for their packaging and acknowledge deposit systems as credible and highly successful programs for recovering soft drink containers, or explain why they won't .

"When you cut through all the promotional hoopla about increased recycling rates," said Franklin, "the bottom line is that we are not reducing, by much, the quantity of soda cans and bottles being trashed each year." She points to the fact that based on NSDA's own figures, American's threw away more soda cans and bottles in 1994 than in 1992. "We seem to be getting nowhere fast," she concluded.

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