A recycling advocacy group has fired back a response in a battle over a report on the merits of bottle-deposit and curbside recycling programs.
In what is likely a related development, Coca-Cola Co. has pulled out of the Businesses and Environmentalists Allied for Recycling task force that wrote the report. However, BEAR Chairman Pierre Ferrari said Atlanta-based Coke remains ``very interested'' in working with BEAR.
The dispute between BEAR and the National Soft Drink Association has become a very public dialogue that is being watched closely in the recycling community.
Atlanta-based BEAR released a report in January detailing the costs of different recycling systems. As recycling rates have fallen, that report has taken on larger importance, and it prompted Washington-based NSDA to argue last month that the report was inaccurate and ``tilted toward promoting forced container deposits.''
BEAR officials rejected NSDA's critique in a Feb. 7 statement, and defended the report, known as the ``Multi-Stakeholder Recovery Project.'' Much of the debate has focused on BEAR's analysis of California's modified container-deposit system.
``Rather than attacking the California program or discrediting the MSRP findings, the beverage industry and others should recommit to collaboratively explore answers to this question,'' BEAR said.
BEAR said NSDA's critique was off in three key areas:
* NSDA incorrectly lowered the cost of curbside programs by assuming that the percentage of aluminum containers collected was higher than what is typical. Putting a greater percentage of valuable aluminum containers in the mix means more revenues for municipal programs.
* NSDA incorrectly raised the projected costs of California's bottle-redemption system by confusing funding mechanisms with operating costs. There are legitimate concerns over funding mechanisms, BEAR said, but that is a separate debate from the costs to operate the system.
* BEAR said it would stand behind its estimates of reverse vending-machine costs, but said it was open to further data that NSDA's analysis said would be coming out soon.
NSDA stood behind its critique, and said that ``what BEAR did was to cost out a fictional version of [California's system], not the system that exists today or that was in place in 1999.''