Evergreen Recycles an Impressive 11.6 Billion PET Bottles a Year. We Need More.


Updated Jan 2024

Consumer brands are listening to consumers who want to purchase products in earth-friendly packaging and are now including recycled content in their packaging:

  • The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Keurig Dr Pepper have partnered with the American Beverage Association on the  Every Bottle Back | Innovation Naturally designed to measure recovery, modernize and improve community recycling initiatives, and increase awareness around 100% recyclable plastic bottles
  • The Coca-Cola Company has joined joining processing equipment and solutions company Hillenbrand and nonprofit Net Impact in hosting a case competition designed to foster the development of innovative solutions that keep plastics circulating in the economy and out of the environment:  Circular Plastics Challenge | Net Impact
  • Nestléhas committed to 100% recycled or reusable packaging by 2025 as well as reducing its use of new, or virgin, resin by one-third

To help our customers meet their sustainable packaging goals, Evergreen can produce a minimum of 217 million pounds of rPET for customer use. But as the demand for rPET increases, so does Evergreen’s need for raw materials: recycled, or post-consumer, PET bottles

 Where Evergreen Gets Our Post-Consumer PET Bottles

The availability of post-consumer PET bottles and jars depends on how many states, companies, and individuals utilize their recycling bins and deposit programs. Only 27% of PET bottles are collected in the United States , the other 73% goes to landfills, oceans and waterways. There is plenty of room for improvement in terms of consumer recycling!

Evergreen’s post-consumer PET comes from 4 primary sources:

  • Material recovery facilities, also known as “MRFs”.  These facilities work with municipal curbside recycling programs. They sort all recyclables such as cardboard, paper, plastic containers, metal cans, etc. They then bring the PET bottles and containers to Evergreen in giant bales for processing
  • State-sponsored recycling facilities. California, where our Riverside recycling facility is located, is different from most states. Plastic beverage bottles as well as glass and metal bottles and cans are subject to the California Redemption Value (CRV), a fee consumers pay at the time of purchase. The CRV is five cents for containers less than 24 ounces. Consumers can recoup the CRV when they return their empty beverage containers at the 1,260 recycling centers statewide. It’s a powerful incentive to recycle. It also results in a great source of clean raw materials for Evergreen Riverside. Currently, ten states have bottle deposit laws: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.
  • Other aggregators. There are many small to medium-sized companies that also aggregate recyclable materials like post-consumer PET bottles and jars
  • Plastic packaging companies. We also have relationships with the companies that make preforms, the intermediate PET form that is blown into a bottle. Evergreen purchases off-spec preforms and preform scrap for recycling. Often, we turn around and sell food-grade rPET back to these same companies for use in new preforms and ultimately bottles and jars. This is closed loop recycling in its purest form.

Evergreen Bale Yard, Clyde, OH

But we will need more to keep pace with increasing consumer demand

Where Is Evergreen Going to Get More Bottles for Recycling?

  • Act as a trusted partner with our current suppliers. We value the relationships we have with our MRFs, state-owned recycling programs and other aggregators and we strive to foster these relationships, some of which are decades old.
  • Enhance our existing base of packaging companies. If companies use virgin or recycled PET in their packaging products, they will have scrap PET material for recycling. Because we can turn around and supply them with finished food grade rPET pellet ,  Evergreen can be an attractive and highly synergistic partner.
  • Public awareness – we want every bottle back. According to McKinsey, approximately 4.6 billion pounds of PET end up in landfills every year. Collecting this unrecycled plastic represents a significant untapped opportunity to close the loop on food-grade PET 1While many people understand the role of recycling in saving our planet and cleaning up our oceans and waterways, far too many are not recycling. They may not have a curbside recycling program in their community, or they may not understand the importance of participating when they do. Public awareness is key!

Recycling Works!

Recycling actually works!