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US beverage companies/NGOs launch 'Every Bottle Back' initiative

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The majority of beverage containers in the US are made of PET and in terms of total sales, the US market was the largest bottled water consumer in 2017. According to Statista, the US bottled water sales volume came to about 13.7 billion gallons. Thus, America's leading beverage companies - The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper and  PepsiCo – have launched the Every Bottle Back initiative, a breakthrough effort to reduce the industry’s use of new plastic by making significant investments to improve the collection of bottles so they can be made into new bottles.

These competitors are coming together to support the circular plastics economy by reinforcing to consumers the value of their 100% recyclable plastic bottles and caps and ensuring they don’t end up as waste in oceans, rivers or landfills.

This programme is being executed in conjunction with two of the country’s prominent environmental non-profit organisations focused on the development of the circular economy. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will provide strategic scientific advice to help measure the industry’s progress in reducing its plastic footprint and The Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Partners will assist in deploying funds for the initiative.

“Our industry recognises the serious need to reduce new plastic in our environment, and we want to do our part to lead with innovative solutions,” said Katherine Lugar, President/CEO of the American Beverage Association (ABA). “Our bottles are designed to be remade, and that is why this program is so important. We are excited to partner with the leading environmental and recycling organiSations to build a circular system for the production, use, recovery and remaking of our bottles. Every Bottle Back will ensure that our plastic bottles are recovered after use and remade into new bottles, so we can reduce the amount of new plastic used to bring our beverages to market. This is an important step for our industry, and it builds on our ongoing commitment to protecting the environment for generations to come.”

The Every Bottle Back initiative, spearheaded by ABA, will:

1. Measure industry progress in reducing the use of new plastic in the US through a collaboration with ReSource: Plastic, WWF’s corporate activation hub to help companies turn their ambitious plastic waste commitments into meaningful and measurable progress by rethinking the way plastic material is produced, used and recycled. Specifically, ABA will use the ReSource: Plastic accounting methodology to track on the collective progress made on executing strategies to reduce the use of new plastic as well as a resource in identifying additional interventions.

2. Improve the quality and availability of recycled plastic in key regions of the country by directing the equivalent of US$400 million to The Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Partners through a new US$100 million industry fund that will be matched three-to-one by other grants and investors. The investments will be used to improve sorting, processing and collection in areas with the biggest infrastructure gaps to help increase the amount of recycled plastic available to be remade into beverage bottles.

3. Launch a public awareness campaign to help consumers understand the value of 100% recyclable bottles through community outreach and partner engagement and reinforce the importance of getting these bottles back, so they can be remade into new bottles. According to a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies (POS) on behalf of ABA, nearly half of consumers were unaware that America’s leading beverage companies are already making bottles that are 100% recyclable, including the caps.

4. Work together to leverage our packaging to remind consumers that our bottles are 100% recyclable and can be remade into new bottles. Beverage companies will begin introducing voluntary messaging on packages beginning in late 2020.

“Reaching our goal of No Plastic in Nature by 2030 will only happen if business, governments and the NGO community work together to fix a broken plastic material system,” said Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice-President of private sector engagement at WWF. “ABA is driving this sense of collaboration within the beverage industry to address one critical piece within this system, which is PET recycling in the US. Measured by our ReSource: Plastic footprint tracker, the efforts made through Every Bottle Back will be met with data-driven solutions to ensure that real progress is being made. We hope the ambition raised by this initiative will inspire other industries to follow suit within the broader effort to stop plastic waste pollution.”

These efforts support other sustainability efforts underway by The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo.

(IMA)


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