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The American Beverage Association Wants Every Bottle Back

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The American Beverage Association wants to make enjoying a bottled beverage easier on the environment. The organization recently launched the Every Bottle Back initiative, a program that will invest upwards of $400 million toward recycling plastic bottles.

The initiative teams up major beverage manufacturers with non-profit groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Recycling Partnership, and Closed Loop Partners. The goal is to use less plastic and lower the negative impact of plastic on the environment by reclaiming and recycling as many bottles as possible.

The investment will be used to increase recycling infrastructure and to leverage packaging and marketing to remind consumers that bottles are not intended as single-use products.

“Through this initiative, America’s beverage companies are working with environmental non-profits, community leaders, and consumers to get more of our carefully designed, 100 percent recyclable bottles back so they can be remade into new bottles and never end up in places where they don’t belong,” Katherine Lugar, President, and CEO of the American Beverage Association said in a statement to Consensus.

Major bottlers such as Coca-Cola, Keurig, Dr. Pepper, and PepsiCo are members of the American Beverage Association and have long had their own recycling programs in place to address recycling concerns with PET bottles (bottles made of the recyclable material polyethylene terephthalate), but Lugar is hopeful that Every Bottle Back will help these giants work together on long-term solutions. Each has joined the initiative.

Photo Courtesy NeONBRAND

“We know we can do so much more together than separately and look forward to working with all those who share our goal of reducing plastic in the environment and creating a circular economy,” she added.

Cities and groups around the United States are stepping up their bottle recycling game by teaming up with the Every Bottle Back program. The city of Baltimore, Maryland, recently delivered 200,000 curbside recycling carts to its residents and launched an education campaign. Absecon, New Jersey is delivering new recycling bins to its citizens. In Ohio, the Ohio Beverage Association is putting the initiative’s $2.5 million funding toward an expansion of the Evergreen PET recycling plant in the town of Clyde. And in Big Bear City, California, the Every Bottle Back investment will provide educational materials to residents and improve the city’s transfer station. These types of private-public partnerships are crucial to keeping plastics out of the environment.

“In a nation where 40 percent of Americans cannot recycle as easily as they can throw something away, this initiative amplifies our scale and rapidly deploys resources to make recycling more effective, accessible, and equitable,” The Recycling Partnership’s Chief Community Strategy Officer Cody Marshall told Consensus. “Capturing bottles to go back into the supply chain starts at the local level. Cities and counties manage our recycling programs independent of each other and while many do a good job, many more have limited resources to expand and improve recycling. This public-private partnership enables important investments in recycling that otherwise may not happen and couples dollars with best-in-class technical support to set the programs up for long-term success. and that investment is unlocking new bottles and cans to move through the recycling supply chain.”

Right now, less than a third of plastic bottles are recycled in the United States. As recycling increases, it’s good not only for the health of the living ecosystem but for the economy.

Photo Courtesy Brian Yurasits

“Recycling is really good for the environment,” explained Ron Gonen, CEO of Closed Loop Partners. “It’s also a major creator of jobs in America. It’s also a major base of tax revenue for local communities. It’s an amazing way to reduce the tax burden of sending all of this stuff to landfill.”

The Every Bottle Back initiative plans a rollout of more than $400 million in investments over the next decade. It will scale over time as decisions are made for the greatest opportunity for positive impact on the community and waste reduction nationwide.

“To date, Every Bottle Back has invested $12.97 million in 18 communities across the country to provide more than 350,000 new carts helping households recycle nearly 695 million more pounds of PET plastic over a 10-year period,” the American Beverage Association told Consensus. “And there’s more to come.”

It’s clear that this program showcases the power of such private-public partnerships to drive solutions and inspire others to join in the movement toward a more sustainable world for all.

“Our hope is that this continues to be an example of how packaging companies and retailers can impact the system,” Marshall added. “Initiatives like this need to grow and be replicated. Recycling works everywhere, it just needs resources, and this public/private initiative provides resources that make sustainable, long-lasting change for recycling programs nationwide. We know bottles and cans are in the home and initiatives like this are capturing those containers that would otherwise be lost to landfill and delivering them into the circular economy.”

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