October 31, 2022  

Insights from Chief Sustainability Officers on the impact of pep+

PepsiCo's sustainability leaders across the globe share what they learned during the first year of the company’s end-to-end transformation.

Ashley Brown experienced firsthand the consequences of stressing the Earth’s resources. He remembers his family waiting in long lines for water during the drought in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2017.

“That was a big wake-up moment for me,” says Ashley, PepsiCo’s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) for Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and China (APAC). “We need to minimize our impact on the planet and its people. PepsiCo Positive is the way of life that enables us to do this.”

PepsiCo Positive (pep+), launched just over one year ago, is the strategic transformation putting sustainability and people at the core of all the company’s actions — from the way we source ingredients to the way we impact communities where we operate. Ashley is one of the sector CSOs who have been leading PepsiCo’s efforts around the globe.

These CSOs have been working hand in hand with associates and partners to put pep+ into action. “We’ve gotten off to a strong start with hundreds of thousands of people playing a part in delivering on our ambitious agenda,” says Jim Andrew, PepsiCo’s Global Chief Sustainability Officer. “As with all transformations, the road isn’t always smooth. But the first year has taught us a lot.”

We’ve gotten off to a strong start with hundreds of thousands of people playing a part in delivering on our ambitious agenda.
– Jim Andrew, PepsiCo Global CSO

Here, PepsiCo’s sustainability leaders share some of the insights they’ve learned about how the company’s actions can drive positive change, highlighting their experience guiding the planet-focused goals of the pep+ agenda:

Local acts can have a large impact

PepsiCo works with approximately 23,000 small-hold potato farmers across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia (AMESA). Building relationships with them is one of the ways PepsiCo aims to spread regenerative agriculture across 7 million acres — an area roughly equivalent to the company’s entire agricultural footprint — by 2030. To that end, PepsiCo created a series of model farms that showcase sustainable farming methods, so local growers can adopt the practices in their own fields. “Not only did it create a tremendous impact on their livelihoods; it also improved AMESA’s agricultural water use efficiency by about 35% last year,” says Manali Desai, the CSO for AMESA. “That’s an achievement I am extremely proud of.”

Creating positive choices creates positive outcomes

“What’s absolutely remarkable is that every single goal we have is connected to people, planet and our performance,” says Todd Squarek, the CSO for PepsiCo Beverages North America (PBNA). One key pep+ ambition is to inspire consumers to make positive choices by expanding the company’s range of beverages with fewer added sugars. Fifty-three percent of PepsiCo’s beverage portfolio now features less than 100 calories from added sugars per 12-ounce serving as the company continues to make progress toward its goal of 67% by 2025.

There are opportunities for all associates to get involved

“One of the things that’s really been enforced for me over the last 12 months,” says David Allen, the CSO for PepsiCo Foods North America (PFNA), “is that there is nothing we can’t achieve when we all work together.” PepsiCo associates have been instrumental in working toward the company’s pep+ goals through the expansion of Green Teams, a grassroots organization that is dedicated to creating a culture of pep+ by inspiring, empowering and engaging colleagues to make a positive impact at work, at home and in their communities. Associates have started approximately 90 Green Teams around the globe — nearly half of them launched this year. “It’s clear that our associates are exceptionally proud of what we are doing,” Ashley Brown says. “We should continue to harness that positivity to drive the pep+ agenda even faster.”

Pepsi Max bottles lined up on a conveyor belt.

Bottles of zero sugar Pepsi MAX made from 100% recycled plastic (excluding the cap and label) in Spain.

Working closely with partners and suppliers is key

One key focus for PepsiCo is the expanded use of 100% recycled plastic (rPET) packaging, which reduces the use of virgin plastic and lowers the company’s emissions. But making that headway requires building a new infrastructure as the company incorporates the use of rPET into the bottling process. “We’re dealing with some new technologies, and the solutions are not always obvious,” says Katharina Stenholm, PepsiCo’s CSO for Europe. “So, in order to achieve our objectives, we will have to work closely with our partners and have the courage to test, trial and learn.”

PepsiCo’s global scale allows innovations to go further

Each of PepsiCo’s sectors offers expertise that can be shared globally. In Latin America (LatAm), for example, three food facilities are on their way to achieving zero freshwater usage in their operations. And these wins offer opportunities for other sectors. “If you want to go fast, go on your own. But if you want to be strong, you have to do it together,” says Luis Trevino the CSO for LatAm. “If we collaborate with our shared experiences, we will multiply the possibilities to expand these successes to other geographies and markets to help others learn.”

Driving these positive actions for the planet and people continues to be at the center of how the company operates. “PepsiCo Positive is not just a program for one year,” Jim Andrew says. “It is the future of our company.”