Good news - Americans are living longer because air pollution in our country is declining, according to a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study showed that the drop in pollution in 51 metro areas from 1980 to 2000 helped add five more months to people's lives.

Certainly, there are many factors contributing to our successful reduction of air pollution. But the beverage industry is proud to be doing its part for a cause that clearly is making a difference in the form of more time alive in this beautiful country. And we know there is much more work to do on this front.

There are many ways our companies are taking proactive steps to reduce air pollution and establish state-of-the-art environmental sustainability practices.

One of the more prominent and recent steps toward reducing air pollution is the conversion to hybrid delivery trucks. Our major companies and their bottlers, such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper and Nestle Waters North America , are all transforming their fleets to more hybrid vehicles. In fact, the largest Coca-Cola bottler announced just this week a major expansion of their hybrid fleet.

Companies are pursuing the use of other alternative energy sources as well; for example, Pepsi has been recognized by the EPA as the largest purchaser of Green Power. And our companies are making sure their manufacturing and product delivery processes operate more efficiently. A case in point, Dr Pepper Snapple Group is replacing its coolers and vending machines with new Energy Star-rated equipment - an effort that will have the impact of removing the CO2 emissions of 11,000 cars from the road each year.

Of course, our companies are aggressively involved in making environmentally friendly packaging and improving recycling in America. Our products come in fully recyclable containers that can be made into new consumer products. And our Full Circle plan is working to revitalize recycling in communities across America. We need people to "think inside the bin" and bring that recyclable container full circle by putting it in the recycle bin. To further boost recycling efforts, our industry just joined forces with The Climate Group as a founding member of its Recycle Together initiative.

We're proud to be doing our part to reduce air pollution and improve the quality of our environment. Together, we can all make a difference for the environment. And that difference just may be more years on your life.