Bottled Water Containers Recycling Rate Rose to 31% in 2009

International Bottled Water Association | IMMEDIATE RELEASE | December 8, 2009

Bottled Water Containers Recycling Rate Rose to 31% in 2009

ALEXANDRIA, VA—The national recycling rate for PET plastic bottled water containers (.5 liter or 16.9 ounce size and 3 and 5 gallon PET water cooler bottles for Home and Office Delivery) now stands at 31% for 2009, according to new data from two new studies: “2009 Post Consumer PET Bottle Bale Composition Analysis” and “2009 Report on PET Water Bottle Recycling,” both produced by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) for the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). The 2009 recycling rate is up only slightly since last 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 stood at 16.62%. The 2009 data indicates that the recycling rate for PET plastic bottled water containers has nearly doubled in five years.

NAPCOR data indicates there were 1,298 million pounds of PET bottled water containers available for recycling in 2009. Currently, 25.2% of PET plastic recovered from all plastic bottles (food, beverages, etc.) 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 pounds, representing a 4% drop from 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 is 28%, a one percent increase over 2008’s recycling rate of 27%.

“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.

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Tom Lauria

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters, including spring, mineral, purified, artesian, and sparkling. Founded in 1958, IBWA’s membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, to set comprehensive and stringent standards for safe, high-quality bottled water products.  

In addition to FDA regulations, IBWA member bottlers must adhere to the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice is a mandatory annual plant inspection by an independent, third-party organization.  

IBWA is proud to be a partner with Keep America Beautiful and a supporter of Drink Up, an initiative of former First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which encourages Americans to drink more water more often – whether from the tap, a filter, or in a bottle. Choosing water is always the healthy choice.