Not all plastics are equal. Minnesota’s local beverage distributors and bottlers recognize this, and it’s why we’re making beverage bottles out of plastic that is 100% recyclable. Our bottles and caps are made to be remade. Unlike other types of plastic, they are not single-use — and, we want every bottle back. It’s why we’re working with key environmental and sustainability leaders on a new industrywide initiative to improve the collection of our bottles and reduce our industry’s use of new plastic.

Beverage bottles are composed of a valuable and versatile type of plastic called PET. Recycled PET is in high demand from consumer manufacturers who use it not only to make new bottles but for products as varied as clothing, carpets and playground equipment. In fact, there are many manufacturers right here in Minnesota that use recycled materials such as PET to make new products.

Of course, selecting the right plastic is only part of the equation. We need to get our bottles back to help reduce the amount of new plastic we use and protect our environment. That is where America’s leading beverage companies have put competitive differences aside on a breakthrough agreement in the creation of a circular economy where all recyclables are made into new products.

Led by the American Beverage Association, the Coca-Cola Co., Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo have joined with pre-eminent environmental and sustainability leaders — World Wildlife Fund, the Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Partners — to launch the Every Bottle Back initiative.

The goal of Every Bottle Back is simple: Decrease the use of new plastic by increasing the collection of plastic bottles so they can be remade into new bottles. This will reduce the beverage industry’s use of new plastic and ensure our bottles and caps don’t wind up in places they shouldn’t, like lakes, rivers or parks, or wasted in landfills.

Commentary: Did you have to toss that plastic cup, or use it at all?

We can do this, but not unless government, industries, environmental groups and consumers come together on solutions that will work. None of us can do it alone. That’s why the Minnesota Beverage Association is eager to be a part this ambitious, nationwide initiative that will serve as a model of how to tackle the tough challenges of our recycling system and increase collection of valuable recyclables, like plastic bottles. The beverage industry’s Every Bottle Back initiative will invest hundreds of millions of dollars across the nation to improve community recycling infrastructure, enhance access to effective recycling programs and increase consumer awareness about how best to recycle. Two leaders in this effort — the Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Partners — will oversee the investment. The global conservation group, the World Wildlife Fund, will measure and track our progress in using less new plastic.

Every Bottle Back builds on our ongoing work to improve recycling throughout our state and region. Through our Recycling Bin Program, we have provided over $170,000 in grants to place recycling containers at various venues and events across the state. Additionally, we have worked to include standardize recycling bin labels so that more of our valuable plastic bottles can be collected and reused.

Minnesotans value and share our goal of creating a circular economy in which the packaging that goods come in, whether it’s plastic, cardboard, aluminum, metal or glass is collected, recycled and remade. It’s why our 2017 statewide recycling and composting rate of 44.7% exceeds the national rate of 35.2%.

Our hope is that Every Bottle Back will be a catalyst for getting industry, environmental groups and local government to come together to develop new, innovative ideas to increase collection of our valuable plastic bottles so they can be remade into new bottles or products and don’t wind up wasted in landfills or littered in our beautiful parks.

Our bottles are made to be remade — they are 100% recyclable and are not single-use. And, we want every bottle back. Together, we can reduce our use of new plastic and create a more sustainable future for generations to come. The Minnesota Beverage Association is proud to be a part of this unprecedented initiative and look forward to working with others who share our goal.

 

Tim Wilkin is president of Minnesota Beverage Association, whose members are producers, marketers and distributors of almost every nonalcoholic beverage you can imagine. On Twitter: @MNBev.