Beverage and food giant PepsiCo Inc. aims to cut virgin plastic consumption per serving by 50 percent by the end of the decade, which, according to one source, represents an absolute 20 percent reduction.
The beverage and food giant, based in Purchase, New York, said the new target is for products from the company’s global food and beverage lines and includes using 50 percent recycled content in plastic packaging by 2030.
The newly announced approach is part of “pep +” or PepsiCo Positive, a corporate initiative that is described as “strategic end-to-end transformation with sustainability at the center of the company’s growth and value creation”.
PepsiCo’s new “pep + connects the future of our company directly to the future of our planet,” said Jim Andrew, Chief Sustainability Officer, in a statement. “By rapidly expanding the SodaStream ecosystem, we are meeting consumer needs at home, on the go, and on the go. At the same time, we offer consumers positive choices that use less plastic, cause fewer emissions, and are better for people. “
Pepsi did not respond to a request for additional comments. However, As You Sow, a nonprofit environmental group that urges retailers and beverage and food companies to reduce plastic usage, wants the timeframe for change to be shortened.
Pepsi announced a 50 percent reduction per serving in a September 15 announcement, and the 20 percent figure only came out after As You Sow spoke to company officials in a subsequent phone call that day, the environmental group said.
Conrad MacKerron, a vice president of As You Sow, said his organization was happy with the announced reductions but pointed out other companies that have similar reduction targets for 2025.
“We believe the schedule needs to be shorter and more in line with their colleagues who committed to these reductions five years earlier,” MacKerron said in a September 16 interview. “I’m sure they will make progress by 2025, but it seems like it was taking longer than their peers agreed to.”
As part of its efforts to influence the plastics used by the company, PepsiCo also plans to expand its SodaStream business around the world. SodaStream enables consumers to make their own carbonated beverages at home using concentrate and carbon dioxide gas bottles in a reusable system.
PepsiCo uses last year’s numbers as a basis to measure the decrease in virgin plastic per serving of a PepsiCo food or beverage product. “
In particular, PepsiCo aims to reduce the use of single-use packaging by promoting SodaStream. The system is currently available in 40 countries and the brand aims to “help consumers avoid more than 200 billion plastic bottles by 2020,” the company said.
You Sow estimates that PepsiCo will reduce virgin plastic consumption by 460,000 tons over the next nine years.
While As You So is happy to see a growing use of recycled plastics, MacKerron said PepsiCo’s move was not committed to reducing overall plastic consumption.
“It’s understandable that these companies are taking a rather humble first step that is easier, which is swapping out virgin material for recycled material. But ultimately the idea is a total net reduction in plastic consumption,” he said. “We feel that the inability of management systems to control plastics will continue for a while.
PepsiCo expects 100 percent recycled PET to be used in “key Pepsi branded products” in 11 European markets by 2022. All Pepsi branded products in the United States will be converting to 100 percent recycled PET by 2030.
On the snack food side of the store, PepsiCo is also introducing a fully compostable bag made from plant-based materials. The use of this flexible packaging begins with Off The Eaten Path, a plant-based brand from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay unit. The new packaging will initially be available from Whole Foods this month.
PepsiCo agreed to license the technology behind the plant-based pouch to other companies for free, “given the importance of creating a circular food packaging system.”
The news of the PepsiCo plan comes months after As You Sow agreed to withdraw a shareholder resolution calling for a change in the way the company uses plastic.
The environmental group agreed to take the initiative in return for the commitment to create a goal of absolute reduction in the use of virgin plastic.
“That’s a pretty good, substantial cut,” said MacKerron. “On the other hand, if you look at the types of cuts, all of those cuts we have are brand new. And so they may or may not lead to a complete reduction in plastic usage. They may just replace the virgin with recycled one Contents.”
It was good to use more recycled plastic instead of virgin resin, he added, but his group wanted an overall reduction.