Monday, July 13, 2015

Messing up on Recycling Codes

My wife and I had a bottle of Fairlife Chocolate Milk last week. After we finished if off, I looked at the bottom of the bottle to see if it was recyclable. It is. Or is it? You decide:
"PETE" or "Other"?
Yep. It's identified as both "PETE" and as a number 7.

The only problem is that PETE is a number 1, while a number 7 is "Other". So which is it? I can't tell just by looking at the bottle since it is colored white. If it was clear, then it would likely be PETE, but once a plastic has been pigmented white, it's a lot tougher to guess it's identity. At this point, I would have to say it is unrecyclable. I had no choice but to toss it in the trash.

My first thought is how can a major-league company like Coke (which owns Fairlife) screw up something so simple? But I have seen weird stuff in the past too, such as this one from 5 years ago where the bottle was labeled as both a 7 and a 5, but it clarified the matter by saying the 5 meant it was PP compatible.

I've always been unable to understand consumer confusion over the recycling codes, but company confusion seems to be common too.

Previous Years

July 13, 2012 - Open Access Polymer Journals and Other Links

July 13, 2011 - Just the same, only really different

July 13, 2010 - Physicists Can't Get Anything Right

July 13, 2010 - Betrayal by a Polymer Scientist


Joe Q. said...

Part of me wonders how much the recycling codes even matter. Would this bottle not just get machine-sorted based on density, or some kind of quick infrared spectrum?

Anonymous said...

To render matters even more confusing, there is a "1" on the other side of the bottom of the bottle.

Anonymous said...

How could Coca-Cola screw up something like this? Well, it is the company that gave us "New Coke" ("sweeter, flatter, more like Pepsi").

Seriously though, this is likely to be a screw-up on the part of a bottler with whom Coca-Cola has a packaging and distribution contract. At least that's how they used to do things.

milkshaken said...

And now the really important question: does the ultrafiltered homogenized reconstituted naturally and artificially flavored lactose-depleted skim milk taste better?

John said...

It was good, but chocolate can cover up a lot of flaws. The real test would be the plain milk. I'm much pickier about that.