Pa. School District Implements Refillable Plastic Bottle Program

Perkasie, Pa. - Refillable plastic milk bottles reportedly have saved the Pennridge School District, Bucks County, Pa., $5,200 in collection fees while cutting lunchroom trash by 60 percent.

In September 1992, the school district replaced its lunchroom milk cartons with refillable eight-ounce plastic milk bottles. All 11 schools in the district use the bottles.

At the outset of the program, bottle loss was the big concern, said Superintendent John E. Slattery. With a less than 1 percent loss, Slattery concluded that it was not a problem.

Rosenberger's Dairies, Hatfield, Pa., supplies the bottles made of GE Plastics' Lexan resin. "We are converting schools from cartons to bottles everyday," said company spokesperson John Pierce. Each bottle can be refilled up to 100 times before being ground up and sold as recyclable material, according to Rosenberger's Dairies.

The program now turns 90,000 milk bottles a day out of the dairy and one line has been designated for milk bottles only.

Pierce estimates that the Pennridge School District program has kept 12 million paperboard milk cartons out of landfills.

Other returnable bottle projects operate in a nursing home and county prison.