Leadership from the aluminum, glass and plastic (PET) industries have joined together over the past month to emphasize the critical role that the recycled bottles and cans redeemed and returned through the country’s 10 beverage container deposit programs play in the supply chains of essential packaging.
Federal guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA Division, along with dozens of state Executive Orders, have long recognized the food and beverage industries, along with their packaging and supply chain partners, as “essential.” Recycled bottles and cans, similar to raw materials and other inputs, are part of this supply chain for food and beverage packaging commodities.
Material from beverage container deposit systems generally account for 20-60 percent of the inputs our industries use to make our essential packaging. The high quality of recyclables collected and purchased by our industries from these programs require very little sortation and can go quickly back into our manufacturing processes.
As the food and beverage industries have ramped up their production to meet unprecedented demand, a strong, dependable supply chain of recycled material is essential in order to meet their packaging needs.
Our growing industry coalition has reached out to leadership in several states with beverage container deposit programs, urging safe redemption and return options be made available for consumers, and that these options be made clear to residents through updated online resources. With nationwide redemption rates for these programs north of 70 percent, consumers have shown a strong desire to return, redeem and support manufacturing industries and their supply chains.
With these programs putting COVID-19 safety measures in place for their workforce and the consumer, we are encouraging respective state agencies to post accessible information (in addition to the accompanying, consumer-facing infographic) on redemption location options, hours and any other measures being taken during this temporary timeframe.
“Container deposit programs are a key element of a strong aluminum scrap supply chain,” said Tom Dobbins, president & CEO of the Aluminum Association. “A recent analysis by environmental research firm Circular Matters showed that while the deposit states consume about a quarter of all beverage cans, they generate more than a third of all cans recycled. It is important that we find a way to keep this vital material flowing while maintaining strong public health guidelines.”
“The average U.S. aluminum beverage can contains 73 percent recycled content and a significant portion of that recycled material comes from the 10 deposit states,” said Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute. “The can manufacturing industry wants to keep making cans with high recycled content because of the significant environmental and economic impact that results. We look forward to working with states now to get the needed recyclable material back and in the future to strengthen deposit systems and recycling policies.”
“Glass food jars and bottles that consumers see today are, on average, made of one-third recycled glass,” noted Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute. “The majority of that recovered material comes from the ten bottle deposit states, due to the high volume of quality glass created by their programs. This recycled material is a key element of the essential food and beverage packaging manufacturing supply chain. It is imperative that we work to make redemption programs fully operational, and resume the flow of quality material before disruptions occur that impact consumers' access to the products on local grocery shelves.
“Beverage container deposit programs are essential to preserve the supply of postconsumer recycled PET,” said Darrel Collier, Executive Director of the National Association for PET Container Resources. “By incorporating postconsumer recycled PET in the production of new bottles, significant environmental savings are achieved, while continuing to work toward achieving content commitments by leading brand owners.”