Beverage bottlers seem ill-prepared to meet California’s deadline for recycled content in plastic bottles at the start of 2022, according to the state’s Environmental Protection Agency.
According to a law passed in 2020, all plastic beverage bottles sold in California must have at least 15% recycled content by the beginning of 2022. It’s the first of a series of step increases that will require 25% recycled content by 2025 and 50% by 2030.
A report by the state EPA’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, or CalRecycle, covered recycling figures for 2020. According to that list, among major beverage bottlers, only PepsiCo, Nestlé Waters U.S. (now BlueTriton) and Niagara Bottling met the 2022 standard. Nestlé reported using 15.7 million pounds of recycled PET out of 48.1 million total, for a recycling percentage of nearly one-third, tops among major bottlers. PepsiCo used 17.8 million pounds of recycled PET out of 97.3 million total, an 18% recycled-content rate.
Coca-Cola used 17.5 million pounds of recycled PET out of a total of about 171.6 million, for a recycled rate of 10%. This despite the fact that Coca-Cola earned the highest grade (a B-minus) from As You Sow, an environmental watchdog that issues an annual report on plastic pollution. Coca-Cola got a high grade in part for being the only company to report units of plastic packaging sold.