April 15, 2011
Engagement Seeks to Increase Recycling of Consumer Products and Packaging
by Robert Kropp
As You Sow wins commitments from three major bottlers to adopt Extended Producer Responsibility
policies, and expands its engagement to include other major consumer product companies.
According to a 2005 report by the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is defined
as "an environmental policy approach under which the responsibility of producers for their products
is extended to include the social costs of waste management, including the environmental impact of
Noting that EPR "has been successfully adopted in Canada and
Europe, diverting large amounts of plastic, glass, metal, and paper away from landfills into
recycling streams that conserve resources," As You
Sow has engaged with several major US-based consumer products companies, successfully
encouraging several to adopt policies "to recycle a majority of bottles and cans sold over the next
six to eight years," according to the organization.
Recent studies have concluded that
products and packaging are responsible for 44% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the US, and
the three major bottlers with which As You Sow has successfully engaged thus far—Coca Cola, Nestle
Waters, and PepsiCo—have acknowledged that their bottles and packaging contribute significantly to
their carbon footprints. Nestle, in fact, estimates the impact at 55%.
As a result of As
You Sow's engagement, Nestle has committed to recycling 60% of beverage industry polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) bottles by 2018. Coca-Cola will recycle 50% of PET plastic, glass bottles, and
cans sold by 2015, and PepsiCo will recycle 50% of its PET plastic, glass bottles, and cans sold by
As You Sow is expanding its engagement to pressure "key consumer product companies
like General Mills, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever to take responsibility for
collection and recycling of their packaging."
"Increased recycling of packaging will
yield strong environmental benefits, leading to more efficient use of materials, reduced extraction
of natural resources, and lower GHG emissions," As You Sow continued. "EPR policies will create new
markets for packaging materials that currently have little value."
In an email to
SocialFunds.com, Conrad MacKerron, Senior Program Director for the Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR) Program at As You Sow, stated, "About 40 million tons of consumer product packaging is
needlessly landfilled or burned in the US each year. We can no longer afford to discard packaging
as resource experts tell us we are already overshooting Earth’s ecological limits."
also throwing away potential revenue," MacKerron continued. "The commodity market value of wasted
glass, plastic, paper, and metal packaging is estimated at between $15 billion and $23 billion."