Packaging plays an essential role in safely delivering our products to customers and consumers. PepsiCo designs our packaging materials to balance several critical criteria, including compliance with food safety regulations, maintaining freshness and quality of the product, environmental sustainability, affordability, and consumer preferences, including convenience. Our sustainable packaging efforts support our pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) ambition in two ways: we are striving to build a Positive Value Chain by contributing to a more circular, inclusive and sustainable supply chain for our packaging; and we are also continuing to evolve our portfolio of convenient foods and beverage products by providing Positive Choices for our consumers with innovative packaging technologies and business models.
We recognize and share the concern that packaging, when disposed of incorrectly after a product has been consumed, may end up as waste in the marine environment or on land. Our vision is A World Where Packaging Never Becomes Waste. As we pursue it, we are working on a broad set of initiatives to introduce more sustainable packaging; develop appropriate end-of-life solutions; improve the carbon footprint of our packaging, as well as other environmental impacts; and strive for protection of human rights especially in the informal recycling sector.
Packaging plays a key role in our overall sustainability agenda with strategic oversight provided by PepsiCo’s executive leadership and input from a multi-functional group of senior experts from Public Policy and Government Affairs, Research and Development (R&D), Supply Chain, and the Office of Sustainability, among others. Our dedicated cross-functional team monitors and evaluates packaging issues on an ongoing basis, including progress against our goals. The following goals make up our pep+ sustainable and innovative packaging solution agendas:By 2025:
- Design 100% of our packaging to be recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, or reusable
- Invest to help increase recycling rates in key markets
- Cut virgin plastic from non-renewable sources per serving across our global beverages and convenient foods portfolio by 50%1 through:
- Scaling new business models that avoid or minimize single-use packaging materials (e.g., models that reuse, refill, prepare at home, utilize concentrates like powders, drops, etc.)
- Reducing our absolute tonnage of virgin plastic from non-renewable sources by 20%, including by:
- Using market-leading bio-based and renewable materials
- Using 50% recycled content in our plastic packaging
- Developing and deploying disruptive sustainable packaging materials and new models for convenient foods and beverages (e.g. SodaStream, powders, bio-based materials, reusable or low/no package models)
We aim to advance these goals by fostering cross-industry and public-private partnerships; advocating for improved recycling, composting, and broader waste management infrastructure and regulatory reform; supporting the advancement of new materials, enhanced recycling technologies, and alternative delivery models; collaborating with suppliers and partners; and helping to increase consumer education and acceptance. We recognize that we face technical and regulatory challenges in achieving these goals—and we may encounter additional new or unanticipated obstacles—but we are committed to moving forward with innovative packaging design solutions as we strive to achieve our packaging goals.
In the interest of transparency, PepsiCo is committed to publicly disclosing key packaging metrics and progressing towards our goals. In addition to the information below and our ESG Summary, we report annually through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment Progress Reports. We also included key highlights in the company’s 2021 Annual Report to Shareholders.
Constructive policy engagement and advocacy
PepsiCo recognizes the need for public private partnerships to improve waste management while promoting the efficient use of valuable resources. In addition to the broad set of actions and investments we are making on sustainable packaging, we believe it is critical for PepsiCo and other industry members to engage proactively and constructively in policy discussions. We actively support policy proposals that are broad based, deliver positive environmental outcomes, provide incentives for sustainability, and allow us to contribute to the design and implementation of the programs.
We actively support different policies used to promote a more sustainable, circular economy for packaging, including well designed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs that leverage industry leadership. EPR, if properly designed and funded, can provide meaningful support for recycling, particularly when the right conditions are in place for a given market. PepsiCo has extensive experience participating in EPR programs in different parts of the world, and we use our experience and insights to deliver constructive recommendations when such programs are being pursued or developed.
Our vision, A World Where Packaging Never Becomes Waste, demands action and investment from all stakeholders—citizens, local, state, and national governments, and participants across the industry supply chain. Our view is that EPR programs function best when input, cooperation, and funding come from all of these key stakeholders.
We actively engage with industry to develop useful guidance on best in class designs of effective EPR programs, such as the guidance put forward by the Consumer Goods Forum Coalition of Action on Plastic Waste. We also collaborate with a broad range of key stakeholders around the world, including NGOs and other industry actors, to promote a better understanding of where and how EPR may work best.
To accelerate the creation of a common global policy framework that can bring about change at scale, PepsiCo supports a business call for a United Nations treaty to address plastic pollution globally, based on a circular economy approach.
Our Sustainable Packaging Vision
We use a variety of packaging materials and, as part of our Sustainable from the Start program, emphasize sustainability in all of our packaging. We also recognize that plastic packaging in particular has caused significant concern among stakeholders.
PepsiCo’s sustainable packaging vision is to build a world where packaging never becomes waste. Our strategy is based on three inter-connected pillars: reduce, recycle, and reinvent. Through each of these three pillars, PepsiCo strives to lead change through active partnerships and stakeholder engagement.
Reduce the plastic that we use
Reducing packaging supports our climate ambition and decreases the amount of plastic we put on the market. We estimate that our efforts to reduce packaging could eliminate more than 400,000 metric tons of virgin material by 2030. In pursuit of this goal, we will utilize several levers including designing packaging to minimize the use of materials, switching to alternative, environmentally friendly materials, and working to reinvent packaging to reduce the need for single use plastics through reusable or low/no package models. For example, to reduce plastics across primary, secondary and tertiary packaging, we have made progress in light-weighting our bottles, reducing thickness of our films, and cutting down on shipping and other packaging materials. Our R&D teams are developing new technology in an effort to pre-settle our snacks products in order to use a smaller bag for the same amount of product, further reducing our use of plastic.
Recycle: support a circular economy for plastic
We recognize that, while we cannot change recycling and recovery rates around the world on our own, we have a role to play in supporting recycling systems through our investments and partnerships. For example, together with peer companies, through the American Beverage Association, non-profit partners WWF and The Recycling Partnership, and local governments, we launched an initiative called Every Bottle Back to invest in recycling infrastructure upgrades, expand access to recycling and support community education efforts in the United States.
Increasing collection and recycling rates supports a circular economy by promoting the recovery of the materials we put into market, preserving their value, and aiming to prevent the materials from ending up as litter or in landfills. We seek to improve collection and recycling infrastructure through policy and programs as well as consumer education and engagement. PepsiCo has endorsed the Consumer Goods Forum EPR position paper to support constructive policy engagement to improve recycling infrastructure across the globe. Throughout all of these efforts we are striving to promote a safe and inclusive waste management system for those working informally in the sector.
Demand for recycled materials is important to increase material value and create a pull in the market to further increase supply. This is why PepsiCo is seeking to increase the amount of recycled content in our packaging by identifying new sources for recycled PET (rPET), the main plastic used to make beverage bottles, and investing in new technologies. This will be explored through contracts and investments in mechanically recycled PET supply, the main source of rPET. We also plan to invest in new technologies in advanced recycling which would break down plastic waste to a molecular level and then re-form it into new polymers, enabling us to use non-bottle feedstock which would otherwise go to landfill, and bringing near virgin-quality performance properties to recycled plastic.
Reinvent: improve the packaging and plastic that we use
PepsiCo’s reinvention efforts focus on improving the environmental impact of our packaging by developing plastics from non-food, plant-based sources and exploring biodegradable or compostable options.
PepsiCo is a member of several consortia and partnerships to develop innovative packaging solutions. These include the NaturALL Bottle Alliance, a research consortium to accelerate the development of packaging made with sustainable and renewable resources, and Danimer Scientific who we are working with to develop biodegradable film resins to be used for next-generation snacks packaging.
Reuse: develop refillable, reusable packaging
We’re also reinventing our offerings to deliver high-quality beverages and convenient foods through reusable packaging models. In 2022, we announced our intention to set a new quantitative goal for reusable beverage packaging by the end of the year. This goal will support our drive for new, innovative packaging solutions and delivery models that will help us to pursue our vision. It recognizes the evolving interests of our key stakeholders, and acknowledges society’s expectations of major food and beverage companies like PepsiCo. Finally, it takes advantage of the opportunity to leverage our scale and depth of knowledge to develop – and lead – with disruptive and transformative new models. In short – we will advance our goal through a robust, business-led strategy.
These packaging solutions can be complex, so we have established a cross functional team dedicated to building a strategy and setting a reusable packaging target that maximizes sustainability impact while working to grow our business in exciting new areas. We are leveraging expertise from across the business, including representatives from our global and sector Sustainability Offices, Design, R&D, Procurement, Corporate Affairs, Food Service, Marketing, and beyond. Additionally, we’re leaning on outside expertise and best practices, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s reuse framework. Where possible, we’re engaging through industry partnerships on the topic of reuse measurement and model deployment. Together, we are striving to develop reuse and refill models that will inspire consumers and drive business growth.
Our early forays into reusable packaging have shown us that we need different solutions for different markets and consumption occasions, and that leveraging technology to create a seamless consumer experience is critical to success. To this end, we are working to develop localized playbooks for multiple reuse models to help our markets and sectors deploy reusable and refillable packaging in ways that will be most appropriate to their local environment.
In 2021, we used approximately 2.5 million metric tons of plastic to package products throughout our convenient food and beverage portfolio, including primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging.
Reduce The Plastic That We Use
In 2021, we reduced the virgin plastic footprint of our convenient food and beverage portfolio by 5% against a 2020 baseline.
In 2020, PepsiCo joined with Pulpex to attempt to develop and scale the world’s first recyclable paper bottle, initially developed by Diageo and Pilot Lite. We also phased out plastic packaging from for our bubly brand and piloted molded pulp fiber and paperboard replacements for our plastic 6-pack carriers in the U.S. Lessons from these pilots continue to inform initiatives in other regions.
Recycle: Support A Circular Plastic Economy for Plastics
We estimate that in 2021, approximately 87% of our packaging worldwide was: fully capable of being recycled, compostable, biodegradable, or reusable. While we phase out materials that are challenging in the recycling process, such as non-recyclable labels, we continue searching for solutions to improve the recyclability of flexible snacks packaging and to increase consumer access to recycling for materials like shrink wrap, which present a challenge to PepsiCo and the industry overall.
In early 2022, PepsiCo Europe announced that by 2030, it aims to eliminate virgin fossil-based plastic in all its crisp and chip bags, reducing GHG emissions from film packaging for food by up to 40%. This ambition will apply to brands including Walkers, Doritos, and Lay’s and is expected to be delivered by using 100% recycled or renewable plastic in its packets.
We expect the recycled content in the packs will be derived from previously used plastic and the renewable content will come from by-products of plants such as used cooking oil or waste from paper pulp. PepsiCo estimates it could achieve up to 40% greenhouse gas emissions reduction 2 per ton of packaging material by switching to virgin fossil-free material.
In 2020, our investment partner, Circulate Capital Ocean Fund, invested US$19 million in four leading companies in India that are using technology and innovation to scale and transform India’s waste management and recycling value chain. We also introduced a consumer awareness campaign in Latin America in partnership with National Geographic called Planet Love, to educate and inspire audiences to contribute to a more sustainable world by starting with the responsible use and disposal of plastic.
In late 2021, we invested $15 million in the Closed Loop Partners’ (CLP) Leadership Fund, a private equity fund focused on strengthening recycling infrastructure and building circular supply chains, and in early 2022, invested $35 million to help create the Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund, to advance new small-scale, modular recycling systems in communities across the U.S. We are also a founding partner of CLP’s Composting Consortium, a founding member of the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund, and are invested in the CLP Beverage Fund through the American Beverage Association's Every Bottle Back Initiative.
Across our global company-owned and franchise beverage operations in 2021, PepsiCo used 6% recycled plastic in its plastic packaging globally, supported by 19% recycled content in Europe and 8% in North America.
In 10 European markets, Pepsi-branded3 products are expected to switch to 100% rPET bottles by the end of 2022. Moving to rPET bottles is estimated to reduce GHG emissions by roughly 30% per bottle. In the U.S., we sell LIFEWTR in 100% rPET bottles, and Pepsi Zero Sugar will begin to be sold in 100% rPET bottles by the end of 2022 and all Pepsi-branded products in the U.S. are anticipated to be converted to 100% rPET bottles by 2030.
In 2021 and 2022, we launched 100% rPET beverage products in Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Argentina. We are transitioning several brands to 100% rPET across 22 global markets.
Reinvent: Improve Packaging and Plastics
PepsiCo is continuing to grow our portfolio of Beyond the Bottle beverages. In 2020, the SodaStream brand expanded to release SodaStream Professional, a mobile-enabled platform that allows people to customize their water away-from-home, including offices, colleges and airports, with reusable bottles. We are bringing this model to additional markets by the end of 2022. SodaStream plans to switch all its flavors from virgin plastic to alternative materials including metal and rPET, which is expected to eliminate the need for nearly 200 million virgin plastic bottles by 2025, in addition to the more than 200 billion plastic bottles the brand is expected to help consumers avoid by 2030. In 2021 and early 2022, SodaStream launched a line of do-it-yourself syrups in Canada and California, including flavored syrups for Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Zero Sugar, 7UP, and 7UP Zero.
In our convenient foods business, we are striving to reinvent our snacks packaging to go Beyond Film. In partnership with UK retailer Asda, we launched a trial with Quaker Oats to reduce plastics and explore refillable options in their Sustainability Stores. Additionally, we are joining the Loop reuse pilot at Tesco with Quaker Oats, and we continue to participate in customer dispenser pilots in France with our Bénénuts product. We are also planning a return-and-reuse pilot in the Netherlands featuring both breakfast and snack products. Learnings from these pilots will inform future innovation.
Reuse: develop refillable, reusable packaging
We currently offer reuse solutions in more than 80 markets, including: SodaStream, SodaStream Professional, Spire Machines (a fountain beverage dispenser), returnable glass and plastic bottles, Terracycle Loop, and concentrates and powders. Reusable and returnable products span many of our brands, including Gatorade and Propel, which are offered as concentrated powders and tablets to allow consumers to adapt the drink to their preferences in their own containers.
In our beverages business, we launched innovative new programs in 2021, including the pilot of a cross-customer reusable cup system that makes it easy to prevent single-use cup waste and Gatorade powder sachets that consumers use with their own bottle.
To build a circular economy for packaging, it is important that all actors in the packaging value chain, including packaging producers, retail and sales outlets, waste management and recycling industries, governments, and consumers, work together to collectively achieve the transition. To this end, PepsiCo engages in a variety of programs and initiatives that bring stakeholders together to create broad solutions in order to shift the whole system in a more sustainable direction. Due to the breadth of our global, regional, and local partnerships, we cannot list every initiative in all markets and focus here on a representative sample of our work and commitment to collaboration.
In 2022, PepsiCo is looking to further several key initiatives as we work towards a Positive Value Chain and help consumers make Positive Choices:
- We will continue to accelerate investments in recycling infrastructure and explore partnerships to empower waste collectors in those markets.
- We are continuing to develop the supply chain to bring compostable, renewable, bio- and paper-based materials, and reusable packaging solutions to scale.
- To further reduce use of single-use plastic packaging, we plan to set a time-bound goal by the end of 2022 for a percent of volume of beverages to be delivered via strategies that avoid or minimize single-use packaging, such as reusable and refillable bottles or containers.
- Consumer trials of 100% recyclable or renewable packaging will begin in European markets in 2022 in line with the new goal of eliminating virgin fossil-based plastic in crisp and chip bags in those markets by 2030. For example, pilots will start with renewable plastic in a Lay’s range in France in the first half of the year. Later in the year, a range from the Walkers brand in the UK will trial recycled content.
- We will continue to build coalitions and collaborate in support of smart policies that enable the circular use of materials and to build partnerships to empower our consumers to make sustainable choices through education.
1Against a 2020 baseline.
2Based on a Cradle to Grave Lifecycle Assessment provided by Franklin Associates, A Division of ERG, using cut off methodology, a mix of data provided by suppliers and industry, and an estimated 2030 end of life scenario. This Assessment includes carbon storage credits, waste-to-energy electricity production credits, and avoided legacy waste treatment credits.
3Includes Pepsi, Pepsi MAX, Pepsi MAX Lime, Pepsi MAX without caffeine, Pepsi Light, and Pepsi Light without caffeine.