The Florida Recycling Partnership, Anheuser-Busch and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) hosted the Florida Recycling Summit Oct. 3 to address the state of recycling in Florida. The one-day event started at Anheuser-Busch’s Metal Container Corporation facility with a short press conference and tour of the facility, and then attendees moved to the Anheuser-Busch Jacksonville brewery for an educational session.
“[The event] gave us an opportunity to highlight the recycling efforts of one our members,” says Keyna Cory, executive director of the Florida Recycling Partnership. “Also, Florida has a 75 percent recycling goal, and we have been working with the FDEP on different educational outreach opportunities. John Truitt, deputy secretary for FDEP, was at the press conference lending their support for recycling efforts, and Karen Moore, FDEP, gave a presentation on how recycling efforts started in Florida and the different programs being offered by the department.”
Cory says the event also benefited Anheuser-Busch. “[The company] doesn’t toot their own horn,” she says. “We wanted to let people know what a great job they do with regards to recycling. They were proud to showcase their facilities.
Overall, about 30 people attended the event. Cory notes that the event could only invite a limited number of people due to the tours and the location.
During the event, Randy Burch, director of operations for Anheuser-Busch, updated attendees on its recycling efforts. He said the company’s MCC manufactures nearly three billion aluminum cans and bottles each year for beer, sodas and energy drinks. Currently, he said the company has a 99 percent recycling rate. Additionally, he said Anheuser-Busch has a 99.8 percent recycling rate in its major U.S. breweries and has committed to having 100 percent of its packaging made from primarily recycled content or returnable by 2025.
Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, spoke during the conference, addressing business owners, university professors and attendees from across Florida. “This event is about what we can do as citizens to protect our state instead of putting all of the responsibility on government officials,” Bradley said at the conference. “Florida wants to continue to implement educational programs to raise awareness as we work towards 100 percent sustainability.”
Truitt also announced that FDEP has a new recycling program called “Rethink. Reset. Recycle.” that assists citizens and industries in protecting Florida’s environment. Truitt reported that through FDEP’s efforts, Florida’s recycling rate has increased from 22 percent in 2011 to 52 percent in 2017.
During the educational session at the brewery, participants heard presentations by Kim Walker and Karen Moore from FDEP; Tim Townsend from the University of Florida and the Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management; Dawn McCormick of Waste Management; and Gene Jones from Southern Waste Information eXchange (SWIX).
Upon conclusion of the Summit, participants had an opportunity to tour the brewery to see firsthand how Anheuser-Busch recycles and reuses many of the materials used in its brewing process.
The Florida Recycling Partnership has hosted a similar Florida Recycling Summit in 2016 at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Jacksonville. Cory says this recent event was expanded to the MCC facility. She adds that the Florida Recycling Partnership plans to host similar events and workshops across the state to educate policymakers, business leaders and the general public about the benefits of recycling.