Sustainable packaging: Majority of Americans believe it will take 40+ years to achieve “Zero Waste”

David Bellm

January 30, 2014

3 Min Read
Sustainable packaging: Majority of Americans believe it will take 40+ years to achieve “Zero Waste”

Although a majority of Americans (57 percent) would like for the U.S. to achieve “zero-waste”—or a state where all products are reused and any trash sent to landfills is minimal—in 20 years or less, they believe it will take 41 years or more (53 percent) before “zero-waste” can be achieved, according to a survey of one-thousand Americans conducted by Opinion Research for the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) from April 8 – 11, 2010, with a margin of error of +/-5 percent (survey facts).   

“Creating ‘zero-waste’ in the U.S. is a goal that needs to be shared by all industries, communities, and consumers,” says Joseph Cattaneo, president of the Glass Packaging Institute.  “In this regard, the glass container industry continues to forge ahead in creating more awareness about the environmental benefits of glass container recycling to meet our goal to use up to 50 percent recycled content in the manufacture of new glass bottles and jars by 2013.”

GPI encourages consumers to make glass recycling a daily habit on April 22nd, the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, and every day to help create a better environment. Made from all-natural resources—sand, soda ash, limestone, and recycled glass—and with a 400-year history in the American marketplace, glass is the only packaging material “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. FDA for food and beverage contact. Glass containers are also endlessly recyclable in a closed loop system, and can go from recycling bin to store shelf in as little as 30 days.

“One of the outstanding environmental benefits of glass containers is their recyclability in a closed-loop process,” says Cattaneo. “Reuse of post-consumer recycled glass containers minimizes consumption of raw materials, lessens the industry’s demand for energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”

Doubling the U.S. glass container recycling rate (28.1 percent in 2008) would allow manufacturers to use 50 percent recycled glass to make new glass containers, saving enough energy to power 21,978 homes for one year and removing 181,550 tons of waste from landfills every month.

To meet the 50 percent recycled content goal, GPI and its members are actively supporting on-premise bar, restaurant, and hotel recycling initiatives. More than 28 percent of beverages packaged in glass are sold in restaurants and other away-from-home venues.  Glass container manufacturers also support innovative curbside collection practices and will continue to work with policymakers to improve and expand state beverage deposit return programs.

GPI will also host its second-annual Recycle Glass Week, a glass container collection and awareness event aimed to educate consumers about the environmental benefits of glass container recycling, from September 12 – 18, 2010. With more than 50 events in 22 states, Recycle Glass Week 2009 created awareness across the country that recycling your glass bottles and jars has powerful environmental and energy saving benefits. In Colorado and Indiana, it led to permanent and expanded glass recycling collection sites for high-quality cullet.  Visit for more information about 2010 Recycle Glass Week events and activities.   

For more information on how to start recycling glass bottles and jars in your community, go to or find a local recycling center near you at   

For full survey results, please visit   

SOURCE: The Glass Packaging Institute


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