For Release 12:00 Noon (PDT)
January 21, 1999
Contacts:  Bill Sheehan (706) 613-7121
Lance King (703) 241-4927
Rick Best (916) 443-5422

Miller Brewing Company's New Plastic Beer Bottle Jeopardizes Plastics Recycling

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 21, 1999) -- The Miller Brewing Company's new plastic beer bottle being test marketed in Los Angeles and five other markets could devastate plastics recycling, public officials and the GrassRoots Recycling Network said today. Miller is the first brewer to introduce a plastic beer bottle in the U.S.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter announced at a noon press conference today in the Council Press Room behind Room 300 in City Hall that she will introduce a resolution Friday. The resolution for action by the City Council calls on Miller to take responsibility for making its new package compatible with the City’s recycling program before introducing it more widely. Officials from the City of Madison WI, and the City of San Diego CA, are also contacting Miller to urge the company to address the bottle’s negative impacts on recycling before it is introduced nationally.

"Miller's plastic beer bottle jeopardizes plastics recycling in Los Angeles and across the country," Rick Best, chair of the GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) and policy director of Californians Against Waste, said. "Miller’s actions make it clear that the environment and recycling are taking a back seat to marketing considerations."

"Miller must make sure its bottle is compatible with our recycling systems, before it is introduced nationally," Best said.

The GrassRoots Recycling Network called on Miller Brewing Company today to make the following commitments before rolling out the bottle nationwide:

    • Ensure that the Miller bottle is compatible with current PET recycling.
    • Ensure that the Miller bottle will not increase recycling costs for local governments and recyclers.
    • Use at least 25 percent recycled content in all bottles.

"Plastics recycling is in a downward spiral," George Dreckmann, recycling coordinator for the City of Madison, Wisconsin, said. "Miller’s bottle will only make things worse, unless the company takes responsibility for its new bottle."

"Miller should buy back its used plastic beer bottles at a price that covers the cost of processing them," Dreckmann said. "Miller should also help research and develop recycling systems to handle its new bottle and incorporate recycled content into the bottles themselves."

"The Miller plastic beer bottle’s amber tint, new interior barrier material, and metal cap and label make it incompatible with today’s plastics recycling stream," Best said. Best explained that these elements increase costs for plastics recycling and cause such serious contamination that recyclers who handle the Miller bottle will not be able to sell their reclaimed plastic to high value markets. Since most plastics recyclers are struggling already, this combination of increased costs and lost revenues could literally drive them out of business.

"It will be local governments and taxpayers who pay the higher costs for recycling or disposing of unmarketable material," Best said.



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