Plastic Soda Bottle Waste Doubles In Four-Year Period

News Release
April 19, 2000

Contact: Pat Franklin 703/276-9800

Plastic Soda Bottle Waste Doubles In Four-Year Period

Wilmington, DE (April 19, 2000) - As the Coca-Cola Company shareholders prepare to meet for their annual meeting in Wilmington, Delaware on April 19th, the Container Recycling Institute reports that plastic soda bottle waste doubled between 1994 and 1998. According to CRI's analysis of industry data, the number of plastic soda bottles discarded increased from 7.6 billion in 1994, to a staggering 15.1 billion in 1998.

"That's 41 million soda bottles every day that end up in landfills or tossed on the side of the road, " said CRI's executive director, Pat Franklin.

CRI, a nonprofit, education organization serving as a clearinghouse for container and packaging waste issues, attributes the increase in wasting to the rapid growth in 20-ounce plastic soda bottle sales, from 3.3 billion units sold in 1994 to 12.3 billion units in 1998. Franklin said the 20-ounce plastic soda bottles are difficult to capture in curbside recycling programs because they are sold primarily through vending machines and convenience stores.

"Wasting is the flip side of recycling," said Franklin. "The wasting rate is climbing while the recycling rate is falling, and our research indicates that recycling of these bottles will continue to fall behind production unless new collection systems or more container deposit systems are adopted. According to CRI, in states that have a refundable deposit on soft drink containers, plastic soda bottles are recycled at 2 to 3 times the rate of non-deposit states.

"Coke does a disservice to every one of its customers and shareholders by denying the proven success of bottle bills and allocating company profits to defeat or repeal container deposit legislation," Franklin concluded.

Franklin explained that the 20-ounce soda bottle is extremely profitable for soda manufacturers, because they can sell 8 more ounces of product in a container that costs less to make than an aluminum can. Bottlers profit too. Franklin cited a Beverage World article that said a bottler would have to sell 26 cases of cans for every case of 20-ounce plastic bottles delivered to make the same dollar profit.

"Coke, and all those who are profiting from the plastic soda bottle must accept responsibility for the recycling of this wasteful package," said Franklin. "They could start by halting their attacks on bottle bills."

The Container Recycling Institute, founded in 1991, is a nonprofit, research and public education organization, advocating reduction of container and packaging waste. Additional information on container recycling and deposit systems can be found on CRI's website at (Chart attached "Plastic Soda Bottles Wasted: 1994 - 1998")
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Plastic Soda Bottles Sold, Recycled, Discarded

1994 -1998

1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Plastic Soda Bottles Sold 14.6 billion 16.78 billion 18.56 billion 21.08 billion 23.40 billion
Recycling Rate 48% 41% 38.6% 35.8% 35.5%
Plastic Soda Bottles Recycled 7.0 billion 6.9 billion 7.2 billion 7.6 billion 8.3 billion
Plastic Soda Bottles Discarded 7.6 billion 9.9 billion 11.4 billion 13.5 billion 15.1 billion
Source:  Beverage World, American Plastics Council, compiled by CRI


Plastic Soda Bottles All Plastic Bottles
Plastic Bottle Resin Sales 1,628 6,182
Plastic Bottles Recycled 580.3 1,451.0
Plastic Bottles Discarded 1,047.7 4,654.0
23 percent of all plastic bottle waste is soda bottle waste


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