August 25, 2022  

An innovative project saving millions of liters of water a year in Mexico

PepsiCo’s Vallejo Facility has achieved zero freshwater consumption for more than 90 days, creating the company's first truly circular water system.

PepsiCo’s Vallejo Facility in Mexico City cooks more than 100,000 tons of food including Sabritas, Doritos and Cheetos a year. Before those chips reach store shelves, they require a vital element — water. Water is used to wash, cook, mix and cool ingredients. But Vallejo has found a way to do all that without using a single drop of freshwater. 

A groundbreaking water treatment project has meant one of PepsiCo’s largest food sites in the world is taking just a small fraction of the water it needs to operate from the municipal drinking supply. As a result, Vallejo consumed zero freshwater for 90 days between April and mid-July. And that number is still rising. 

The goal is to require zero freshwater consumption altogether for an entire year. If the facility can accomplish that, Vallejo would save approximately 550 million liters of water — enough for 4,000 families. 

“We are very, very close. And we aim to achieve zero freshwater usage in our operation,” facility director Gabriel Yoshitani says. “This is important to us, because water resource availability is in critical condition in Mexico City. We’re aligned with the pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) goal of helping to create a better world for all people.”

One of the company’s pep+ ambitions is to become Net Water Positive by 2030. That means reducing water use and replenishing back into the watershed more than 100% of water used at company-owned sites, particularly in high water-risk areas.

“The success of projects like this one in Vallejo, where we’re creating PepsiCo’s first truly circular water system, is an important milestone in our journey to become Net Water Positive,” says Roberta Barbieri, PepsiCo Vice President of Sustainability. “The Vallejo story is a proof point — evidence that it can be done.”

The success of projects like this one in Vallejo, where we’re creating PepsiCo’s first truly circular water system, is an important milestone in our journey to become Net Water Positive.
– Roberta Barbieri, PepsiCo Vice President of Sustainability 

 

Vallejo began taking those steps more than a decade ago. Starting in 2009, the facility installed several water-saving methods including a state-of-the art microfiltration system, low-water cooking processes and rainwater harvesting. Together, they have helped the facility increase its water-use efficiency by 85% (compared to a 2015 baseline). 

But not content with just improving efficiency, the team at Vallejo also explored innovative approaches to use less freshwater altogether. In 2020, Vallejo began collecting the water used by four neighboring facilities during their production processes. That water is treated and purified back to the highest international standards, then reused throughout Vallejo’s operation.

As a result, Vallejo has reduced freshwater consumption by more than 76% compared to 2019. And it is still decreasing. 

The next step for Vallejo: Expanding its network of third-party water suppliers. Gabriel explains that this will help eliminate any reliance on local freshwater (a need to tap into the municipal water arises when production varies at a location, limiting the amount of reclaimed water available). Plus, this will offer the potential to share the reclaimed water with other sites to help in their conservation efforts. 

“We’re doing a very good job so far,” Gabriel says. “But we’re not happy to achieve just 90 days without freshwater consumption. That’s why we’re pushing ourselves to go even further.” 

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