The American Beverage Association and large soft drink makers announced a $100 million joint investment on Oct. 29 to boost PET bottle recycling in the United States and reduce the industry's use of virgin plastic.
The "Every Bottle Back" initiative will be investing those funds through the Recycling Partnership and Closed Fund Partners and aims to leverage another $300 million in investment to modernize recycling and bottle collection.
"Our industry recognizes the serious need to reduce new plastic in our environment, and we want to do our part to lead with innovative solutions," said ABA President and CEO Katherine Lugar. The initiative is being launched with the Coca-Cola Co., Keurig Dr. Pepper and PepsiCo Inc.
At a Washington press conference to kick off the program, Lugar and executives from the three companies said it includes having the World Wildlife Fund measure the industry's progress in "reducing its plastic footprint."
ABA said in materials distributed to reporters that the effort will directly impact 23 million people in 9 million homes in the U.S. and estimates it will capture an additional 80 million pounds of recycled PET bottles per year.
That compares with 1.72 billion pounds of PET bottles collected for recycling in 2017, according to an annual U.S plastic bottle recycling report from the American Chemistry Council and the Association of Plastic Recyclers, the most recent figures available.
"This is a serious and a sustained effort," Lugar said. "Some of the challenges in the U.S. around recycling go to the fact that it's a heavily fragmented local system, so by working with our partners and our experts in adopting regions of the country, we look forward to bringing innovation and improvements and technology."
But collecting an additional 80 million pounds of recycled PET in 2017 would likely have only resulted in a very small boost in the U.S. PET bottle recycling rate, according to an analysis of industry figures.
It would have increased the PET bottle recycling rate from 29.2 percent to about 30.5 percent, based on the industry report that showed total PET bottle resin sales of 5.91 billion pounds in 2017.