In Unfinished Business: The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-Consumer Packaging, As You Sow describes how extended producer responsibility would boost the U.S. packaging recycling rates and transform how recycling is funded.
Waste & Opportunity 2011 is based primarily on responses to As You Sow’s Beverage Container Recycling Survey. The Survey was sent to 45 companies, double the number of the 2008 report, and includes beverage companies, grocery manufacturers with private label beverage brands, fast food restaurant chains, and packaged food companies.
Nearly every canned food and beverage product on the market today contains a highly controversial chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), in its lining. BPA has been linked to serious diseases and has been the focus of increasing consumer concern and regulatory restrictions. As investors, As You Sow and Green Century Capital Management (Green Century) believe companies may face financial risks from the presence of BPA in product packaging and should act quickly to eliminate the chemical to help protect shareholder value and preserve company reputations.
Seeking Safer Packaging, published in April 2009, ranks food and beverage companies on their efforts to address BPA in their product packaging. Consumers, the media, and public officials alike are becoming increasingly concerned about bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine-disrupting chemical used in hard clear plastic and can linings.
The second edition of As You Sow’s beverage container recycling scorecard report evaluates new and ongoing efforts by beverage producers to:
- reduce materials use
- increase recycled content in containers
- raise recovery and recycling rates
- support public policy initiatives to increase container recycling rates
- disclose such activities to stakeholders
Every year in the U.S. nearly 200 billion beverage containers are sold, two-thirds of which are landfilled, incinerated or littered. Increased recycling efforts have been unable to match increases in beverage sales, resulting in a decline in beverage container recycling rates from 53.5% in 1992 to 33.5% in 2004. Containers and packaging form the largest segment of municipal solid waste and beverage containers comprise nearly 15% of all packaging. Beverage bottles and cans are not only among the most recyclable but also the most economically valuable materials in the municipal waste stream. Replacing these cans and bottles with new containers made from virgin materials consumes large amounts of energy, water and other natural resources.