16 out of 23 companies receive failing grade
As You Sow recently released a new beverage container recycling report evaluating the recycling practices of 23 large beverage companies in the U.S. Coca-Cola received the highest grade with a “C”, followed by Anheuser Busch, PepsiCo and Nestle Waters, who all received C minuses.
“Despite some impressive progress, most beverage companies continue to fail basic criteria for dealing with the environmental implications of their packaging,” said Amy Galland, As You Sow’s research director and author of the study. More than 200 billion beverage containers are sold in the U.S. each year, but more than 130 billion of those are still sent to landfills and incinerated, representing a huge waste of natural resources.
The new publication—“Waste and Opportunity: U.S. Beverage Container Recycling Scorecard and Report”—is based on original research that evaluated the beverage companies based on four criteria:
• Source Reduction: Reducing the use of virgin packaging materials has a dramatic effect on energy use and the carbon footprint of beverage companies. Source reduction goals with strategic plans to implement them can have significant impacts on the companies’ double bottom-line of financial and environmental returns.
• Use of Recycled Content: The energy savings and greenhouse gas reduction from using recycled materials in beverage containers is substantial.
• Beverage Container Recycling: Supporting and investing in legislative policies that increase beverage container recovery and recycling or developing nation- or company-wide initiatives will dramatically reduce the environmental impact of beverage containers. The national recycling rate in the U.S. has dropped since 1992 from 55% to 33%, but the average rate of recycling for states with mandatory deposits—bottle bill laws—is 70%.
• Transparency: As You Sow believes it is important to encourage companies to compile information on goals and commitments made on container recycling, source reduction and recycled content activities in a central, easily accessible place on their websites.
As You Sow surveyed and evaluated 74% of the U.S. carbonated soft drink market, more than 60% of the U.S. bottled water market, and nearly half of the U.S. beer industry. The 23 companies evaluated in the report were: Coca-Cola (C), Anheuser Busch (C minus), Pepsi Co (C minus), Nestle Waters NA (C minus), Red Bull (D plus), Fiji Water (D), Honest Tea (D minus); and the following companies who all received failing grades: Dr. Pepper/Snapple, Miller Brewing Co., Coors Brewing Co., Starbucks, Cott, National Beverage, Hansens, Crystal Geyser, Adirondack, Arizona, Boston Beer, DS Waters, Jones Soda, Monarch Beverage, New Belgium Beer and Polar Beverage.
The report offers seven key recommendations to the beverage industry to improve its recycling practices, including: commit to using the highest possible levels of post-consumer recycled content in beverage containers; support public policies that significantly increase the recycling of beverage containers; and publicly report on container recycling progress each year.