According to the Rochester Institute of Technology, more than 22 million pounds of plastic end up in our Great Lakes. America Recycles Week is a reminder that more needs to be done to protect our planet. We know that Ohioans are frustrated when they see plastic bottles wash up on the shores of Lake Erie. America’s leading beverage companies share in that frustration and are committed to preventing plastic bottles from ending up in places they do not belong.
Recently, the American Beverage Association brought together an unprecedented coalition with the shared goal of building a circular economy for plastic bottles. Together, The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr. Pepper and PepsiCo joined environmental and sustainability leaders World Wildlife Fund, The Recycling Partnership, and Closed Loop Partners to launch the Every Bottle Back initiative.
The goal of Every Bottle Back is simple: decrease the use of new plastic by increasing the collection of plastic bottles so they can be remade into new bottles. This means reducing the need for new plastic and fewer bottles that could end up as litter in lakes, rivers, and waterways.
We will achieve this goal by improving community recycling, measuring and tracking our progress in using less new plastic and increasing consumer awareness surrounding our recyclable bottles.
What many people don’t know is that beverage makers across the country are already designing their bottles and caps to be 100% recyclable. We use versatile plastic known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) to make our bottles and caps.
PET is in high demand by consumer manufacturers across the state, nation, and globe. This valuable plastic should end up in new bottles – not in our lakes or rivers which provide safe drinking water for us all.
Of course, selecting the right plastic is only part of the equation. We need to get our bottles back to help reduce the amount of new plastic needed to bring beverages to the market. That is where our initiative opens a new chapter in the journey toward a circular economy.
Under Every Bottle Back, we are doubling down on the beverage industry’s long-standing commitments to sustainability and directing the equivalent of $400 million to The Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Fund. A new $100 million industry fund will be matched three-to-one by grants and investors. These investments will go towards strengthening recycling infrastructure, modernizing technology, boosting collection rates and providing greater access to recycling collection at home.
But we also need to make it easier for consumers. As part of the initiative, The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr. Pepper and PepsiCo will place uniform labels on packages to inform consumers that our plastic bottles are 100% recyclable, and when we get them back can be remade into new bottles.
Ultimately for this initiative to have an impact, it must demonstrate measurable results. That’s why Every Bottle Back is grounded by the World Wildlife Fund’s ReSource: Plastic program, which works with businesses to accurately measure and maximize efforts to reduce plastic in the environment. The ReSource: Plastic program will ensure the program is making a real difference to protect the environment.
The Ohio Beverage Association is eager to work alongside America’s leading beverage companies and its key environmental and sustainability partners on this initiative. It’s an important step towards the creation of a truly circular economy and ensuring our plastic bottles end up where they belong – back on the shelf.
America’s Recycles Week should inspire us to know that a more sustainable future is within reach. Ohio’s beverage makers look forward to working with this coalition and local environmental groups and governments to create a truly circular economy.
It is our hope that the Every Bottle Back initiative, through its programs, educational tools, and services, will inspire other industries across our state and country to partner with communities to reduce their own plastic footprint.