IBWA Report: Bottled Water Containers Recycling Rate Rose to 31% in 2009

Data show that recycling rate almost doubled in past five years

The national recycling rate for PET plastic bottled water containers (.5-liter or 16.9-ounce size and 3 and 5 gal PET water cooler bottles for home and office delivery) now stands at 31% for 2009, according to data from two new studies: “2009 Post Consumer PET Bottle Bale Composition Analysis” and “2009 Report on PET Water Bottle Recycling.” Both reports were produced by the National Assn. for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) for the Intl. Bottled Water Assn. (IBWA).

The 2009 recycling rate is up only slightly since the previous year, which was 30.9%, but a welcome continuation of steady annual increases in the recycling trend line since this analysis commenced in 2004, when the recycling rate for PET plastic bottled water containers was 16.62%. The 2009 data indicate that the recycling rate for PET plastic bottled water containers has nearly doubled in five years.

NAPCOR data indicate there were 1,298 million lb of PET bottled water containers available for recycling in 2009. Currently, 25.2% of PET plastic recovered from all plastic bottles is specifically derived from bottled water containers. Using data compiled during an extensive bale composition study in 15 locations in 14 states, the 2009 NAPCOR PET analysis determined that the total number of pounds of all PET bottles and jars available in the United States for recycling in 2009 was 5.149 billion lb, representing a 4% drop from the 2008 data analysis. The decrease is attributed to adverse economic circumstances for consumers, a reduction in the amount of PET resin used in bottles and jars (known as light-weighting) and a 37% increase in the use of recycled PET resin (RPET) since 2008. In 2009, the gross recycling rate for all PET bottles was 28%, a 1% increase over 2008’s recycling rate.

“Recycling rates for bottled water containers had a modest but positive increase in 2009; steady as we go,” said Tom Lauria, vice president of communications at IBWA. “We’re glad to see a significant 37% jump in the use of RPET, both in bottled water products and PET bottles in general. The doubling of the recycling rates for bottled water containers over the past five years is encouraging, but also a reminder that more needs to be done to expand recycling efforts and collection methods across the country. It’s clear that bottled water recycling rates are consistently heading in the right direction year after year, while delivering the convenience, safety and refreshing hydration that made bottled water one of the most popular packaged beverages.”

Intl. Bottled Water Assn.

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