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New Study Identifies Optimized Recycling and Recovery Model for Beverage Containers

January 14, 2014 | Press Release

New Study Identifies Optimized Recycling and Recovery Model for Beverage Containers

“Optimized Bottle Bill” Would Yield Significant Increase in Material Recovery

ALEXANDRIA, VA, January 14, 2014 – A stronger network of recycling depots and curbside collection programs will yield increased rates of recycling and material recovery of beverage containers, according to the major findings of a new study commissioned in part by the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI).

The study was designed to provide decision makers with information on the total costs for various beverage container redemption approaches. Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), a leading consulting firm in the solid waste and recycling fields, prepared the study.

The researchers examined different scenarios for a redemption system that is both cost-effective and works collaboratively with other collection systems, including curbside recycling.

RRS gathered and evaluated data from various existing curbside and redemption programs to develop recommendations for an “Optimized Bottle Bill” (OBB) system that includes the following elements:

  • A network of convenient container recycling depots, in addition to retail locations, where consumers can redeem their containers.
  • A provision to compensate curbside collection programs and/or material recovery facilities to keep them cost neutral.
  • Retention of the unclaimed deposits and the material values within the system to create a sustainable funding mechanism.

Key findings of the Study include:

  • OBB systems result in increased recovery of materials: OBBs are estimated to increase statewide recovery by at least 11% over a comprehensive single stream system and recovery of bottle bill materials by 162%.
  • OBB systems offer cost comparative structures: OBBs can be comparable in cost to single stream if material revenues are kept by the operator, and in some cases even if unredeemed deposits are not kept in the system.
  • Redemption centers reduce pressure on retailers: Redemption centers reduce the material returned to retail by an estimated 50-80% depending upon population density.
  • OBB systems employ sustainable funding mechanisms: If unredeemed deposits are reinvested into the recycling infrastructure, then OBBs may increase recovery while also creating a sustainable funding source for recycling.

“Recycling and recovery is of critical importance to the glass container industry,” said Lynn Bragg, President of GPI, “but despite recycling efforts today, thousands of tons of glass are lost to U.S. landfills each year.

“The OBB study offers a roadmap for an optimized system that would yield significant material recovery and lessen landfill waste,” Bragg continued. “GPI and its member companies look forward to discussing and engaging legislatures and other stakeholders on the study moving forward.”

When glass plants can increase the levels of postconsumer glass as part of the overall batch mix, they can reduce furnace temperatures, resulting in reduced energy use and lower greenhouse gas emissions. For glass, one ton of carbon dioxide is reduced for every six tons of recycled container glass used in the manufacturing process. Energy use at the glass plants also drop about 2-3% for every 10% recycled glass used in the manufacturing process.

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About GPI

On behalf of the North American glass container manufacturers, the Glass Packaging Institute promotes glass as the optimal packaging choice, advances environmental and recycling policies, advocates industry standards and educates packaging professionals. GPI member companies manufacture glass containers for food, beverage, cosmetic and many other products. GPI associate members represent a broad range of suppliers to the industry.

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Through GPI, glass container manufacturers speak with one voice to advocate industry standards, promote sound environmental and recycling policies, and educate packaging professionals. Learn More