Despite commending PepsiCo for recent statements from its vice president Roberta Barbieri supporting the value of bottle bills for producing clean materials for bottle-to-bottle recycling, The Container Recycling Institute (CRI) has pointed out inaccuracies in her statements, particularly about the cost-effectiveness of bottle bills.

The CRI explained that the California program she references is self-funded through the use of unredeemed deposits, with no taxpayer money used and no additional fees charged to consumers: “No other program in the world is able to maintain and pay for an 80 per cent recycling rate while also providing $140 million per year to curbside programs,” said the statement. “Beverage manufacturers and distributors pay $18m processing fees, but distributors also receive $19m in administrative fees, so these two items cancel each other out. This means that there is zero net cost to the beverage industry in the state.”

It went on to say that extensive financial studies show that recycling PET through California’s container deposit system costs only about a quarter of what it does in single-stream curbside programs: “But it’s misleading to compare these recycling methods side-by-side, because – as Barbieri herself notes – container deposit systems provide much higher-quality PET, with greater volumes recovered, than single-stream curbside programs. Deposit systems also very effectively reduce beverage container litter and marine debris.

“Barbieri’s statement that California’s 30-year-old program is ‘imploding’ deserves some pushback as well. There’s nothing wrong with the design and intent of the California program, but in this time of historically low commodity prices, redemption centres are being underpaid and are losing money. It’s a problem that requires nothing more to fix it than a change to a state payment formula. The program’s reserve fund currently stands at $244m, so there are sufficient funds to pay the centres properly.”