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Tallahassee Democrat: Beverage companies are helping protect Florida’s beaches, waterways | Opinion

December 6, 2018
By: Liz DeWitt, Your Turn

Tallahassee Democrat

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.

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Florida Public and Private Organizations Win Award from the National Waste & Recycling Association

Florida Recycling Partnership, Waste Management Inc. of Florida, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Beverage Association Win 2018 Sustainability Game Changer Partnership Award

Tallahassee – November 15, 2018 – The Florida Recycling Partnership, Waste Management Inc. of Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Beverage Association teamed up to win the 2018 Sustainability Game Changer Partnership Award from the National Waste & Recycling Association. 

The award was presented at the association’s Executive Leadership Round Table in Colorado Springs. This award recognizes partnerships that include municipal and county governments, regulatory agencies, community organizations and private industry that have successfully partnered to implement game-changing initiatives, policies or programs that advance sustainability in their community. The public and private organizations worked together on three recycling educational programs including the “Rethink. Reset. Recycle.” campaign; the Capitol Complex Recycling Project and Florida Recycles Day at the Capitol.

“Florida Recycles Day at the Capitol is our signature event,” said Keyna Cory, Executive Director for the Florida Recycling Partnership.  “This past year we were able to announce the new collaborative educational program, Rethink. Reset. Recycle. campaign and the Capitol Complex Recycling Project.  With great partners like Waste Management, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Beverage Association we have been able to continue our mission to educate policy makers, business leaders and the general public about the benefits of recycling through these projects.”

“The Florida Department of Environmental Protection partnered with the recycling processing industry in the state to launch the “Rethink. Reset. Recycle” campaign at FloridaRecycles.org to get back to the basics of recycling,” said Dawn McCormick, Director of Communications for Waste Management Inc. of Florida.  “By recycling only clean and dry paper and cardboard, bottles and cans curbside, and not including plastic bags, food and other non-recyclables, residents of Florida can help make recycling more environmentally and economically sustainable.”

“DEP was proud to be a partner in the launch of the statewide Rethink. Reset. Recycle campaign, which calls on Floridians to rethink what they know and reset their recycling behavior to focus on the basics,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “By educating residents on proper curbside recycling techniques, we can help reduce contamination coming into recycling facilities, continue working toward increasing Florida’s recycling rate, and ensure a more sustainable future for the state of Florida.”

“When it comes to recycling, the Florida Beverage Association and its members have one goal: to ensure all packaging we put out in the market is recovered and reused so we can protect Florida’s natural beauty from coast to coast,” said Liz DeWitt, Executive Director of Florida Beverage Association. “We strive to foster behavioral change towards recycling through increased visibility and education. We believe the best way to achieve this is when the private sector and government work together to implement environmental programs that are proven to work. The Capitol Complex Recycling Project is the perfect example of such efforts.”

“These awards honor the very best in the industry for excellence in educating the public and smart ways to recycle; creating innovative approaches to advance our work, constructing state of the art recycling facilities, and revolutionary partnerships that help protect the environment and increase collaboration with the recycling ecosystem,” said NWRA President and CEO, Darrell Smith.

About Award Winners: 

FLORIDA RECYCLING PARTNERSHIP
Florida Recycling Partnership is a coalition of companies and associations with the mission to educate policy makers, business leaders and the general public about the benefits of recycling. www.flrecycling.org

WASTE MANAGEMENT
Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management environmental services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, the Company provides collection, transfer, disposal services, and recycling and resource recovery. It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. The Company’s customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America. To learn more information about Waste Management, visit www.wm.com or www.thinkgreen.com.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. Visit the department’s website at FloridaDEP.org.

FLORIDA BEVERAGE ASSOCIATION
The Florida Beverage Association is the state trade association of non-alcoholic beverage producers, marketers, bottlers, and distributors. Our companies make and sell some of the most popular non-alcoholic beverages, including regular and diet soft drinks, bottled water, and water beverages, 100-percent juice and juice drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and ready-to-drink teas. To learn more visit www.flabev.org

ABOUT NWRA
The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) represents the private sector waste and recycling services industry. Association members conduct business in all 50 states, and include companies that manage garbage, recycling and medical waste, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and a variety of other service providers. www.wasterecycling.org     

For more information:
Keyna Cory – 850.728.1054
keyna@flrecycling.org

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