The Florida Retail Federation is highlighting the state’s beverage industry in its steps toward sustainability in honor of Earth Day.
The FRF put the spotlight on the Florida Beverage Association, a participant in the American Beverage Association’s Every Bottle Back initiative. This program, in partnership with beverage giants including The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig, Dr. Pepper and PepsiCo, seeks to reduce the beverage industry’s use of new plastic.
The program teams up with environmental sustainability leaders to reclaim used plastic bottles to be remade into new bottles.
Elizabeth DeWitt, president and CEO of FlaBev, leads the initiative in the Sunshine State by working with bottlers and distributors to ensure Florida retailers are making the effort to maintain and protect Florida’s landscape and resources.
Florida’s beverage companies support 19,000 jobs and provide a $13 billion economic impact to the state, according to the FRF.
“Recycling is all about a change of mind in our industries,” DeWitt said in a news release. “The more we can partner with the retailers and others in the community to educate people on the benefits of recycling and how they can do it easily, the more success we will have in making a positive impact on the environment.”
FlaBev also has a community grant program to help educate communities across the state on the value of Florida’s natural resources and helps create recycling projects at home.
So far, the Florida Beverage Association has contributed more than $170,000 to community organizations throughout Florida.
This year, the Florida Beverage Association is working with Orange County Public Schools on the “Recycle Right Campaign” to provide more than 200,000 local students with the visual collateral to properly recycle in schools. They are also working with the city of Miami to utilize Keep America Beautiful’s “Waste in Place” curriculum in schools through its “Connect Kids and Community” program. This initiative will help to close the gap on recycling knowledge among students and residents in key communities.
Last year, DeWitt worked with the University of Florida through the Florida Sea Grant to provide funding to install seabins at marinas to help collect waste and litter found in the water. The seabins will be installed this year as the project was delayed due to COVID-19. They also supported “ReThink Your Waste,” an interactive exhibit in Orlando that explores individuals’ roles in waste diversion through the lens of a circular economy.
Retail beverage companies have also focused their efforts on water conversation. U.S. companies have reduced their water use by 4.4% per unit of product since 2011.
Despite these efforts, however, Florida’s coastal environment continues to be on the frontlines of plastic waste.
Massive amounts of trash end up in the ocean every year, having a devastating impact on marine life, including whales washing ashore with bellies full of plastic. A recent study found that a small piece of plastic was enough to kill a 38-foot whale that washed up near the Florida Everglades in 2019.
The species, known as a Rice’s whale, was just recently discovered and is believed to live only in the Gulf of Mexico.