Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bottle recycling in the United States, from the '40s to now

The Conversable Economist (Timothy Taylor) points out:

We often think of programs like curbside recycling as driven by a pure environmentalist agenda. But Bartow J. Elmore makes an intriguing argument these programs were passed in substantial part because of pressure from U.S. beverage makers, who were trying to address a public relations nightmare and to increase their profits. . . .

Compared to the 1940s when 96 percent of bottles were washed and reused, often a couple of dozen times, where do we stand today? Elmore cites evidence that in the mid-2000s, maybe 30-40 percent of cans and plastic bottles are recycled.