The U.S. plastics recycling rate dropped slightly last year, and advocates again are debating whom to blame. At least this year some of the parties to the discussion seem ready to do something about the problem.
The bottle-recycling rate fell from 22.1 percent in 1999 to 21.8 percent in 2000, according to data from the annual survey sponsored by the American Plastics Council in Arlington, Va. Simply put, many consumers are throwing away bottles that some recyclers would love to have. For example, only about 23.7 percent of PET bottles were recycled last year, an 11-year low. Most experts agree that's because consumers are buying more single-serve PET drink bottles, consuming them away from home and then throwing them away instead of saving them for the household recycling bin.
We're on the record encouraging the plastics industry to support bottle-deposit legislation, which gives consumers an incentive to recycle. We also support APC's effort to educate folks to recycle all plastic bottles.
Meanwhile, don't forget that the Atlanta-based Businesses & Environmentalists Allied for Recycling is working in the background, trying to come up with a strategy that industry and environmentalists can support to double U.S. beverage-container recycling rates.
We hope the parties can reach an agreement, because it's in the best interest of the plastics industry to make this the last year that it reports such a pathetic recycling record.