In a vain attempt to increase recycling of plastic beverage bottles, trade associations representing PET bottle manufacturers and soft drink producers have taken their bottle bins to Minnesota ("Minn. promoting recycling of single-serve PET bottles," Nov. 27, Page 4).
Similar bottle-bin programs introduced in other cities have done nothing to improve the plastic beverage bottle recycling rate, which has dropped for four consecutive years. The National Soft Drink Association and the National Association for PET Container Resources refuse to go public with the results of their most recent campaigns in Columbia, S.C., and Albuquerque. You can bet they´d be publicizing those results if the programs had been successful.
Promotional programs that glamorize recycling are short-term and short-lived. Recycling is not a short-term enterprise. It takes a long-term commitment and a strong incentive to achieve high recovery rates of plastic bottles or any other recyclable material.
Bottle bills provide that incentive by requiring refundable deposits on beverage bottles and cans. The proof is in the recycling rates. Plastic soda bottle recycling rates are three times as high in the 10 bottle-bill states and the one bottle-bill city than they are in most nonbottle-bill states. Bottle bills do more than recover plastic soda bottles and other beverage containers for recycling. They also keep them out of landfills and off of city streets, playgrounds and parks.
If the big bins and accompanying ad campaign fail to increase PET bottle recovery, Minnesota may want to consider replacing the bottle bins with a bottle bill.
Container Recycling Institute