PepsiCo relies on diverse packaging solutions to safely deliver products to our customers and consumers. Building a sustainable business is at the core of our strategy and we continue innovating to secure our long-term success. PepsiCo's sustainable packaging vision is to build a world where packaging never becomes waste.
To the World:
When packaging is disposed of incorrectly after use, it may end up as waste in the marine environment or on land. This urgent global issue requires a systemic shift to more circular solutions for consumer packaging through multi-stakeholder collaboration and active partnerships across the entire packaging value chain.
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 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 beverages and convenient foods 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. The challenges in this journey are significant and complex, and we are facing global and systemic obstacles along the way. We know that we, and our value chain partners, have work to do to achieve our vision while pursuing strong business growth. But, we remain focused on driving change through our pep+ agenda and are not shying away from the investment, engagement and innovation that it will take to achieve it.
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 reusable1
- Invest to 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%2 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.), with the aim of delivering 20% of all
beverage servings we sell through reusable models
- Reducing our absolute tonnage of virgin plastic from non-renewable sources by 20%, including by seeking to:
- Use market-leading bio-based and renewable materials
- Achieve our goal of using 50% recycled content in our plastic packaging
- 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.), with the aim of delivering 20% of all beverage servings we sell through reusable models
We aim to advance these goals by fostering cross-industry and public-private partnerships; advocating for improved recycling, composting and collection 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 know there are both external and internal challenges we must continue to tackle, but we are committed to diligently working together with partners across the value chain to find solutions such as innovative packaging designs and aligned policy principles that will help us to create a world where packaging never becomes waste.
pep+ in context: Packaging
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 and ESG Topics A-Z, we report annually through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) New Plastics Economy Global Commitment Progress Reports. We also include key highlights in our 2022 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 circular economy for packaging, including well designed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs that leverage industry leadership. EPR programs, 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 programs may work best.
To further support our vision, PepsiCo supports an ambitious United Nations agreement to end plastic pollution. We want to be part of the solution and support a global framework that enables a circular economy and accounts for the needs of individual nations and localities. PepsiCo is a member of the Business Coalition for a Global Plastic Treaty convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) and WWF.
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 plastic packaging supports our climate ambition and decreases the absolute 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 are 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 reducing shipping and other packaging materials. Our R&D teams are developing new technology 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, we invested in a well-designed Deposit Return System in Romania, which is expected to increase recycling rates.
Increasing collection and recycling rates supports a circular economy by promoting the recovery of the materials we put into the 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.
Demand for recycled materials is important to increase material value and create a pull in the market to further increase supply. This is why we are 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 continue investing in new advanced recycling technologies.
Throughout all of these efforts, we are striving to promote a safe and inclusive waste management system for those working informally in the sector. The informal recycling economy exists across the globe, filling the gap where recycling options are lacking. Informal sector workers often operate in unsafe conditions, without employment benefits accorded to those in formal employment, and experience income disparity. That is why PepsiCo has signed onto the Fair Circularity Initiative to create a just transition to a circular economy.
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, as well as reusable 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 biodegradable bio-polymer manufacturers who we are working with to develop biodegradable film resins to be used for next-generation snacks packaging.
Reuse: scale reuse models
We’re also reinventing our offerings to deliver high-quality beverages and convenient foods through reusable packaging and innovative reuse models that eliminate the need for single-use plastic. In December 2022, we announced a new goal to deliver 20% of all beverage servings sold through reuse models. This target supports our drive for innovative packaging solutions and delivery models that can help us reduce our use of virgin plastic per serving, decouple business growth from virgin plastic use, and, over time, decrease GHG emissions.
We will pursue four approaches to scale our reuse business including:
- Expanding SodaStream at home and also in workplaces through SodaStream Professional;
- Building out our refillable plastic and glass bottle offerings in partnership with PepsiCo bottlers;
- Growing our fountain drinks business with reusable cups; and
- Accelerating growth in powders and concentrates.
We are in the process of identifying and validating global servings volume sold by customers in reusable fountain cups and this information is not currently included in our reporting. Our initial estimates suggest this volume represents a small portion of total reusable servings. At the time we announced our new reuse goal in late 2022, we estimated that approximately 10% of our beverage servings are already delivered through reuse models.
Our reuse strategy was developed by a cross-functional team to maximize 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 EMF’s reuse framework. We’re also engaging through industry and multi-stakeholder coalitions such as the World Economic Forum’s Consumers Beyond Waste initiative on the topic of reuse measurement, as well as EMF and the Consumer Goods Forum to explore solutions to challenges and models to scale together with peer companies. We are also a leading member of Closed Loops Partners’ NextGen Cup Consortium, an industry-led group working to accelerate learnings around reusable cups in food service. 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. For example, over the years we have gained insights into the successful operations and scale of our refillable bottle business that can help us identify the right market characteristics to introduce or scale refillable models. These include:
- Using one bottle design to increase the uptake by different brands within the portfolio;
- Improving technologies to reduce water usage and efficiency;
- Increasing consumer uptake by communicating sustainability benefits of refillables; and
- Utilizing a deposit to encourage the return of bottles.
In the future, partnerships for sharing logistics and cleaning facilities could improve the scale and uptake of these types of reuse systems.
Relying on our past experiences and learnings from multi-stakeholder coalitions, we are working to develop localized playbooks for different 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 2022, we used approximately 2.6 million metric tons of plastic to package products throughout our beverages and convenient food and beverages portfolio, including primary, secondary and tertiary packaging.
- In December 2022, we announced a new goal to deliver 20% of all beverage servings sold through reusable packaging solutions and delivery models by 2030.
- We continue to improve recycling infrastructure, committing an additional $50 million in investments to key partners in 2021-22.
- We supported the launch of the Flexible Packaging Initiative in Europe, pledging for increased investment and support for policy interventions alongside peer companies to accelerate the transition toward a circular economy for flexible packaging across Europe.
- Transitioned at least one product to 100% rPET in 22 markets around the world
- Business growth in certain markets, particularly in markets that do not allow, or have only recently allowed, rPET in food grade packaging, has presented challenges to virgin plastic reduction.
- Inadequate infrastructure and low recycling rates make collection and recycling of packaging difficult and increase the likelihood of packaging leaking into the environment.
- Limited supply of high-quality recycled materials makes it difficult to meet our demand for recycled packaging.
Reduce the plastic that we use
2022 represented a challenging year for progress towards our Sustainable Packaging Vision. Sustained business growth has meant that sales volumes have continued to rise, and we have not been able to successfully decouple use of virgin plastic from this growth. As a result, the virgin plastic footprint of our beverages and convenient foods portfolio has increased by 2% per serving against a 2020 baseline—11% in absolute terms.2
Within our convenient foods business, we are implementing new technology to change the way we package our snacks. We have implemented charge compaction technology, which pre-settles chips and allows us to reduce the amount of flexible packaging film used for the same amount of product. We are also optimizing the width of the seal on our flexible film packaging to reduce the plastic used in sealing our snack bags.
In our beverage business, we are continuing to accelerate rPET in markets that have seen recent regulatory unlocks; expanding offerings of low or no packaging formats, such as Gatorade powders and tablets; launching new reuse pilots, such as a reusable cups at the CFG Arena in Baltimore; investing in new technology to lightweight bottles; and continuing to explore opportunities to scale enhanced recycling and renewable PET alternatives.
Recycle: support a circular economy for plastics
In 2022, 88% of our packaging worldwide was RCBR. 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%.3 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 manufacturing plants such as used cooking oil or waste from paper pulp.
Across our global company-owned and franchise beverage operations, in 2022, PepsiCo used 7% recycled plastic in its plastic packaging globally, supported by 23% recycled content in Europe and 11% in North America.
Following years of advocacy to allow for the use of recycled content in food packaging, in 2022, we are transitioning several brands to 100% rPET across 22 global markets. In 2022, we made substantial progress on transitioning to recycled plastic bottles in international markets.
- We launched multiple brands, including Aquafina and Pepsi, in rPET across six AMESA markets (South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar) and plan to expand efforts in 2023.
- In 2021 and 2022, PepsiCo APAC launched 100% rPET beverage products in Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam.
- In 13 European markets, Pepsi-branded4 products switched to 100% rPET bottles.
- In the U.S., we sell LIFEWTR in 100% rPET bottles and as of 2022, have begun to convert all 20oz bottles of Pepsi, including Pepsi Zero Sugar to 100% recycled PET (we plan to convert all Pepsi-branded products in the U.S. to 100% rPET bottles by 2030).
Improving recycling systems
To meet our recycled content ambitions, we recognize that we need to support collection and recycling systems across the globe, covering the entire value chain. We work with a variety of partners to drive improvements in both the formal and informal recycling economies.
Through our partnerships with several consortia, we confounded the Composting Consortium in 2022. The group is managed by the investment firm Closed Loop Partners (CLP) and aims to define best practices across the compostable packaging value chain, test various composting technologies, identify enabling environment factors that support the industry's development and outline the business case for greater investment in this emerging space.
In 2022, we committed $35 million to help create the Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund to advance new small-scale, modular recycling systems in U.S. communities. We are also a founding member of the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund and have invested in the Closed Loop Beverage Fund through American Beverage Association's Every Bottle Back Initiative.
Alongside industry peers, in 2023, we invested in Circular Services, a developer launched by CLP and Brookfield Renewable, whose goal is to build recycling facilities that will enable U.S. cities to abandon the costly practice of dumping waste in landfills by ensuring that valuable commodities are recycled and reused in domestic supply chains. Since 2018, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation have committed to invest more than $100 million in global recycling partnership initiatives to help elevate recycling rates and waste collection.
In 2022, PepsiCo entered into an agreement with Eastman to supply us with recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) made from non-bottle feedstock that would otherwise go to landfill, including volume that will come from a new plant that Eastman will build in the next few years which, once online, is expected to have an annual output capacity of more than 150,000 tons of rPET.
In November 2022, PepsiCo joined partners Tearfund, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestle and Unilever to launch the Fair Circularity Initiative and support a set of principles to guide corporate engagement with the informal waste sector and work towards a fairer circular economy.
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. 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 2022, SodaStream expanded its footprint in Europe with the launch of SodaStream in Spain.
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. In several markets, we have transitioned the secondary packaging for our multipack snack offerings from a plastic sack to a recyclable paperboard structure. In Europe (UK specifically), we have additionally developed new methods of delivering multipack snack offerings in recycle friendly formats, including through paper based secondary sack packages and side-taped multipacks, which contribute toward our plastic reduction goals.
Reuse: scale reuse models
We currently offer reuse models in more than 80 markets, including: SodaStream, SodaStream Professional, fountain beverages with reusable cups, returnable glass and plastic bottles, and concentrates and powders. At the time we announced our new reuse goal, we estimated that approximately 10% of our beverage servings are already in reusable packaging5. Reusable models span many of our brands, including Pepsi brands, Gatorade, and Propel.
In 2022, we joined the Closed Loop Partners NextGen Consortium in the United States, working collaboratively with stakeholders across the value chain to design and test new models to enable the scale up of reusable cups, a critical component of supporting a reuse infrastructure alongside beverage fountains.
We expect to be able to report progress against our reusable packaging goal in 2024, after a full year of implementing our new strategies.
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 2023, PepsiCo is looking to further several key initiatives as we work towards a Positive Value Chain and help consumers make Positive Choices:
- Infrastructure: We will continue to accelerate investments in collection, sortation and recycling infrastructure and explore partnerships to empower waste collectors in those markets.
- Partnership: We will continue to build coalitions and collaborate in support of smart policies that enable the circular use of materials and build partnerships to empower our consumers to make sustainable choices through education.
- Supply: We are continuing to develop the supply chain to bring compostable, renewable, bio- and paper-based materials and recyclable packaging solutions to scale.
- Design: We We are exploring scalable technologies that allow us to reduce the volume of plastic in our packaging, while continuing to design for improved recyclability of our materials
- Reuse: We will continue to work to scale our reuse portfolio with models designed to help us reduce our use of virgin plastic per serving, decouple business growth from virgin plastic use and decrease GHG emissions.
2Measured versus a 2020 baseline. We remeasured the 2020 baseline to reflect the divestiture of Tropicana and to include additional data.
3Based 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.
4Includes Pepsi, Pepsi MAX, Pepsi MAX Lime, Pepsi MAX without caffeine, Pepsi Light and Pepsi Light without caffeine.
5Our total beverage servings account for all beverage sales volume. Reusable servings at customers requiring third-party data are not currently included.