December 6, 2018
By: Liz DeWitt, Your Turn
Nov. 15 was National Recycling Day, a time for Americans to remember the importance of conserving materials to protect our environment. Here in Florida, we know how vital it is to take extra care to protect our beaches and waterways, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.
As a Floridian, I appreciate the beauty of these bodies of water and their importance to our economy. As vice chair of Keep Florida Beautiful, an organization that inspires, educates and empowers Floridians to improve and beautify their community environments, I’m acutely aware of the impacts of plastic waste on our environment. And in my role as the executive director of the Florida Beverage Association, a proud KFB member, I’m also part of a concerted effort with America’s top beverage companies to implement permanent solutions.
These fierce global competitors are putting aside their differences to take steps to boost recycling and reduce waste. For example, America’s beverage companies are supporting programs that have been shown to increase recycling and keep reusable materials from being landfilled or becoming litter. The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Keurig Dr Pepper, and others have funded recycling bins in places where litter is particularly bad: parks, boardwalks, marinas, sports fields and beaches. By improving recycling rates, these efforts are supporting the health of our public spaces.
The less waste that becomes litter or ends up in landfills, the better. This is especially important in areas near bodies of water like our beaches and the Everglades. That’s why beverage companies have focused, in part, on promoting recycling in proximity to water.
Florida should continue to lead in these efforts and serve as a role model for states across the country that hope to curb littering. Florida’s beverage companies will continue to support these efforts.
As part of our commitment to mitigating pollution, the Florida Beverage Association supports efforts to provide municipalities in Florida and across the country with the resources to collect and recycle our products. As a proud member of the Florida Recycling Partnership, we encourage policymakers and the public to remember the three “R”s — reduce, reuse and recycle — both in the home and in business.
Of course, any comprehensive approach to this issue includes smarter use and disposal of manufacturing and production materials. America’s beverage companies have committed to zero waste from production facilities to landfills, and have achieved a 94 percent diversion rate of the waste generated at their U.S. manufacturing and production facilities thus far. They have also saved hundreds of millions of pounds of raw materials by lightweighting their containers, removing millions of pounds of packaging materials from the market in recent years.
The Florida Beverage Association was recently co-awarded the National Waste & Recycling Association’s Sustainability Partnership Game Changer Award for uniting businesses, government and the public to promote recycling.
Policymakers should pursue thoughtful solutions that increase recycling, particularly around our beaches and waterways. That is what it will take to help ensure that Florida families can continue to enjoy our beaches for generations to come.
Liz DeWitt is the executive director of the Florida Beverage Association, where she oversees public policy initiatives and works with local and state governments on issues impacting the beverage industry.