Research Organization Predicts Comeback Of Refillable Bottles

New York - Most people believe the "good ol' days" of reusable bottles are long gone. But if Inform, an environmental research organization, and author David Saphire have their way, refillables' popularity will soon return.

The nonprofit organization has released Case Reopened: Reassessing Refillable Bot-tles, which focuses on refilling as a strategy to reduce waste before it is generated and prior to recycling, treatment or disposal.

According to Inform, if refillable glass or plastic bottles make at least 25 trips between the beverage company and the consumer, beverage container waste could be reduced by at least 70 percent; the energy used to manufacture new bottles could be reduced by up to 93 percent; and water use could be cut in half. In 1990, beverage containers comprised 5.5 percent by weight of the total U.S. municipal solid waste stream, the book reports.

"Over the last decade, U.S. residents have shown an impressive commitment to recycling beverage containers. . . but refilling has gotten the short shrift," said Inform President Joanna D. Underwood. According to Case Reopened, refilling and recycling are complementary strategies because beverage plants usually recycle broken or damaged bottles.

To obtain a copy, contact Inform Inc., 120 Wall Street, New York, N.Y. 10005-4001. (212) 361-2400.

Case Reopened notes that refilling succeeds best in states with deposit laws; in establishments where beverages are purchased and consumed on-site; in distribution systems in which a small number of parties handle the bottles; and when there is local loyalty to a brand sold in refillables.

including more than 120 billion beer and soft drink containers, according to a study by Franklin Associates Ltd. for the U.S. EPA. The study did not foresee a significant reduction in its estimates for the year 2000.