Container Recycling Rate Not Nearly Good Enough

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 2:21pm


Container Recycling Rate Not Nearly Good Enough

"Between 1990 and 2010—a period that saw almost feverish growth and investment in municipal recycling programs, education, and infrastructure—Americans have persisted in wasting more beverage containers than they've recycled," the Container Recycling Institute report.

A new report from the Container Recycling Institute shows U.S. recycling rates for containers are and have been poor. Based on more than 20 data sources, from the beverage market to U.S. census tables, "Bottled Up: Beverage Container Recycling Stagnates (2000-2010)"indicates sales of disposable beverage containers grew 22 percent from 2000-2010, with per capita consumption up 8 percent over that period, but the rate at which we recycled the empty containers fell.

The non-profit institute's report showed 243 billion beverage packages were sold domestically in 2010—glass bottles, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, foil pouches, gabletop cartons, and other containers. Of these, 153 billion were either landfilled, littered, or incinerated.

If the 153 billion containers wasted in 2010 had been diverted back to the manufacturing stream, the equivalent of 203 trillion BTUs of energy would have been saved, enough to power almost all of the homes in Los Angeles and Chicago combined, and this also would have eliminated the release of 11.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the institute reported.

The 11 U.S. states with container deposit laws in 2010 recycled 66 percent to 96 percent of the containers covered under their laws, but the average recycling rate for all beverage containers in non-deposit states was 30 percent, according to the report.