In the August edition of Packaging Technology and Engineering magazine, William Pflaum, the executive director of the Institute of Packaging Professionals, laments the international focus on package recycling. Citing several vacuous arguments of why he feels recycling is a marginal environmental strategy, the article implies that the reduction in the weight of a package more than compensates for other environmental impacts.
The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers applauds the constant innovations resulting in the light-weighting of different types of packaging. This is consistent with the reduce, reuse, recycle hierarchy. However, the implication that a 2-liter soda bottle, for example, that has been light-weighted 25 percent does not have to be recycled is at best misinformed.
We feel this type of attitude currently is manifesting itself in the introduction of packages that are giving recyclers of plastic containers problems. Every label, closure, decoration, colorant, barrier layer and coating that is not compatible with current recycling technology aggravates the diverse stew that is the recycling stream.
APR, representing more than 90 percent of the post-consumer plastic bottle reclaimers, has a history of active cooperation with consumer-product companies, packaging professionals and bottle manufacturers.
APR has established a cooperative testing program for consumer-product companies and bottle manufacturers to work directly with plastic recyclers to determine what impact a new bottle may have on current recycling technologies. We applaud Continental PET Technologies for having used the "Champions for Change" program to evaluate the recyclability of its new plastic beer bottle on behalf of Miller Brewing Co.
We understand and applaud the technical breakthroughs that will allow more products to be packaged in plastic containers. We are working on technologies that will allow this broader range of innovations to be absorbed in the recycling process. However, it is unrealistic to think that recyclers will be able to keep pace both technically and financially with indiscriminate use of any and all packaging technologies.
The contention in the article that recycling is merely "the hole that the environmental community has dug and doesn't know how to back out of" is terribly shortsighted and embarrassingly self-serving. To that end, APR will contact individual consumer-product firms that are using bottles that do not fit with "design for recyclability," to remind them that their package is our feedstock.
Whether you agree with it or not, the recycling ethic has been embraced internationally. APR feels that voluntary cooperation is certainly better than the European model that was highlighted by Mr. Pflaum. APR stands ready to work with the packaging industry to provide efficient and recyclable packaging.
Association of Postconsumer