WASHINGTON — Hoping to pave the way for a successful introduction of plastic beer bottles, three industry trade groups involved in recycling are planning to work together to identify and solve recycling issues.
The American Plastics Council, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers and the National Association for PET Container Resources announced the effort Feb. 24, aimed at all companies considering plastic beer bottles.
While the groups normally would work closely, the high-profile effort before the widespread introduction of a package is important, said Marty Durbin, associate director of the Washington-based APC.
The effort also comes as some officials privately have been a little surprised by the furor over the recyclability of Miller Brewing Co.'s PET beer bottle in its market trial.
The Los Angeles City Council Feb. 2 chastised Milwaukee-based Miller, and Madison, Wis., city officials wrote a letter to Miller expressing concerns. Some environmental organizations have taken strong stances against the bottle.
Robin Cotchan, director of Washington-based APR, said ``when you think about it, the environmentalists are all up in arms. Who have you not heard from — the actual recycler. It's because we're doing the testing ... we are moving forward in trying to figure out the challenges.''
APR heard a report from Miller at its Feb. 10 meeting, and plans to tell the brewer and its bottle maker, Continental PET Technologies in Florence, Ky., that the metal cap and metalized, paper-backed label do not meet APR's recycling design guidelines, Cotchan said.
Continental PET, a unit of Owens-Illinois Inc. in Toledo, Ohio, announced at the APR meeting that it would buy the amber Miller bottles for at least a year at a ``very good price'' to create a market, she said. Continental plans to use recycled content in some of the bottles, Cotchan said.
Miller and Continental PET officials did not reveal details of the testing.
While the testing of beer bottles continues, Coca-Cola Co. entered the fast-growing bottled- water market Feb. 19 with a blue-tinted PET water bottle. Cotchan said blue PET is not as valuable as clear and would pose challenges for recyclers if it appears in large quantities.
A spokesman for the GrassRoots Recycling Network said Coke's decision is irresponsible because it places marketing before recycling.
But a spokesman for Atlanta-based Coke said the company's studies indicate it would never put enough blue into the waste stream to be a problem. He said Coke's Dasani brand will be national, but he could not say how many bottles the company plans to produce.