crushed aluminum cans
© Steve Allen |

Trade associations voice support for bottle bills

Quality recyclables these programs generate are part of the packaging supply chain, the associations say.

Leaders from within the aluminum, glass and plastic industries have joined together over the past month to emphasize the critical role that bottles and cans redeemed and returned through the country’s 10 state-level beverage container deposit programs play in the supply chains for producing essential packaging.

Federal guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Division, along with dozens of state executive orders, have recognized the food and beverage industries, along with their packaging and supply chain partners, as “essential” during the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Recycled bottles and cans, similar to raw materials and other inputs, are part of this supply chain for food and beverage packaging.

Material from beverage container deposit systems generally accounts for 20 percent to 60 percent of the inputs used by the metal, glass and plastics industries to make packaging, the associations say. The high quality of recyclables collected and purchased from these programs require very little sortation and can go quickly back into the manufacturing processes.

As the food and beverage industries have ramped up production to meet unprecedented demand, a strong, dependable supply chain of recycled material is essential to meet their packaging needs, according to the Glass Packaging Institute, the Aluminum Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute and National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR). 

The coalition says it has reached out to leaders in several states with beverage container deposit programs, urging that 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, the associations say.

With these programs putting COVID-19 safety measures in place for their workers and customers, the associations say they 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 time frame.

“Container deposit programs are a key element of a strong aluminum scrap supply chain,” says Tom Dobbins, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, Washington. “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,” says Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute, Washington. “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,” says Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute, Arlington, Virginia. “The majority of that recovered material comes from the 10 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,” says Darrel Collier, executive director of NAPCOR, Charlotte, North Carolina. “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.”