2020 Sustainability Report: Focus Areas
As a food and beverage company, PepsiCo is acutely aware of the critical role water plays in the food system, and our vision is that wherever in the world PepsiCo operates, water resources will be in a better state because of our presence.
Our long-term water strategy aims to achieve sustainable water security for our business, natural ecosystems and local communities that depend on an accessible and reliable supply of clean, safe water. We work to understand the water challenges at a local level and support collaborative solutions that address the specific needs of the watershed. PepsiCo’s “Net Water Positive” ambition aims to reduce absolute water use and replenish back into the local watershed more than 100% of the water used at company-owned and third-party sites in high water-risk areas.
We are focused on improving operational and agricultural water-use efficiency, local water replenishment in high water-risk areas, public education, advocacy for smart water policies and regulations, and adoption of best practices with key partners in the community. We work to understand the water challenges at a local level and support solutions that address the specific needs of the watershed. PepsiCo supports the establishment of science-based targets (SBT) for water sustainability. We are contributing to the development of the draft methodology for water by participating in the corporate advisory group of the Science Based Targets Network and are piloting the methodology during 2021.
Learn more about PepsiCo’s comprehensive approach to water
“We are proud to team up with a company like PepsiCo that understands the importance of nature-based solutions in protecting and conserving the world’s freshwater sources. With PepsiCo’s support, The Nature Conservancy is working directly with farmers, businesses, and communities to implement sustainable watershed management practices and launch new, locally-tailored watershed conservation projects to fit each region’s unique needs.”
Director, Resilient Watersheds
The Nature Conservancy
See our water goals & progress
Worldwide, PepsiCo has implemented various strategies to ensure that we continue to operate in a way that is sustainable for the planet, our business and our shared communities.
Operational Water-Use Efficiency
PepsiCo has focused our water stewardship efforts where they matter most, in the high water-risk (HWR) areas of the world where we operate.
Our ambition in our owned operations is to reduce our freshwater footprint as much as possible, employing multiple tactics from reapplication of proven best practices, innovation in developing low-water processing technologies and investing in world-class technologies that facilitate safe water reuse.
In our Latin America sector, a number of our food manufacturing sites are located in HWR areas. At these facilities, we have implemented a multiyear strategy to reduce our freshwater footprint as part of PepsiCo’s participation with the Alliance for Water Stewardship ambition.
An example of this strategy is innovation in low-water processing, such as the conversion of water nozzles used in potato slicing to more efficient “Splash Cones,” and installing low-spray nozzles in corn washing lines. We have also made multimillion-dollar investments in membrane bioreactor technology, which allows us to treat, to drinking water standards, and reuse in our manufacturing process – water that would have otherwise gone to waste.
Circular water project at our Sabritas Vallejo plant.
We now have ten membrane bioreactor and reverse osmosis systems producing high-quality water for reuse at different manufacturing plants in HWR locations in Latin America, and we are continually reviewing opportunities to further deploy this technology. Our water-use strategy is showing returns in our operational performance and in 2020, for example, we improved water-use efficiency by about 20% at our Latin America HWR sites versus 2019, and about 40% versus 2015.
The first application of a circular water project at our Sabritas Vallejo plant in Mexico City is also showing promising results. Collaboration with a franchise bottler allowed us to obtain water that they have, as a by-product of beverage ingredient manufacturing, and treat and use that water to potable levels. The project enabled the Sabritas Vallejo facility to reduce freshwater demand by just over 50% in 2020 versus 2019 and allows the site to reuse over 80% of its daily water consumption. We are looking to identify opportunities to replicate this project at other sites.
At PepsiCo Beverages North America, an innovation known as “burst rinsing” is helping to save millions of gallons of water every year by streamlining equipment rinsing during the flavor changeover process. Rather than continuously rinsing beverage syrup tanks for up to 30 minutes at a time, burst rinsing sprays the tanks in 30-second intervals, using less water to achieve the same hygienic degree of cleanliness. Burst rinsing makes it possible to maintain quality standards, improve productivity and save considerable water. This is an opportunity that is particularly attractive as it provides significant benefit at no additional capital cost. The innovation is expected to save 8 million gallons of water a year – more than the equivalent of 12 Olympic-size swimming pools. We plan to extend the process to global sites in 2021 including Minya, Egypt; Ekaterinburg, Russia; and Zeebrugge, Belgium where project teams have been established.
Agricultural water-use efficiency
PepsiCo operates a global business with each region presenting a unique geography and thus, unique challenges. In order to serve the specific agricultural needs of each region, we adapt our approach for maximum impact. Water efficiency in agriculture has a direct link to regenerative agriculture – the healthier the soil, the more water it can absorb, making water use for irrigation more efficient. For several years, PepsiCo has been working with growers through our global Sustainable Farming Program (SFP) and through local partnerships to drive efficient water usage in farmers’ fields around the world.
In 2020, we improved our water-use efficiency in HWR regions by 14% since 2015 – driven, in part, by the efforts of our Sustainable Farming Program.
In Pakistan, PepsiCo helped farmers convert 2,000 acres of agricultural land under the Sustainable Farming Program to implement high efficiency irrigation systems in Kasur, Multan and Depalpur cities saving 1.9 billion liters of water in 2020.
Other factors improving PepsiCo’s agricultural water-use efficiency include introducing PepsiCo's "Irrigation Water Efficiency Toolkit," creating a global “irrigation water champions network,” improvements to water scheduling practices and technology, optimizing planting windows and shifting to more efficient irrigation technology.
PepsiCo recognizes that watershed health and giving back water we have used is critical to the continuity of our business, our social license to operate and the health of our communities. We are driving multiple initiatives to help us meet our water replenishment goal to replenish more than 100% of the water we draw for our operations in high-risk watersheds by 2030 and improve overall ecosystem health and biodiversity, including groundwater recharge, reforestation, landscape restoration and biodiversity improvements and wetlands restoration.
Groundwater recharge and community engagement in India
PepsiCo is supporting groundwater recharge initiatives and developing alternate livelihood opportunities for local Indian communities through a program that recharged more than 626 million liters of water in 2020.
Since inception, we have expanded our initiatives each year in Channo (Punjab) and Pune (Maharashtra), creating a total of 19 rainwater harvesting structures and a wastewater treatment structure to enable groundwater recharge at the watershed level.
In addition to our water security commitment, PepsiCo is making positive contributions to local communities. Through our watershed conservation approach, we have adopted watersheds around our manufacturing plants and are driving positive water impact across four key areas: recharge and conservation, agricultural development, livelihood enhancement and community and gender empowerment. All programs include a community component based on local needs, including self-help groups, farmers clubs, joint liability groups and water user associations. Community groups are designed to respond to diverse livelihood issues and provide empowerment for greater economic development.
Supporting post-wildfire reforestation efforts in California
PepsiCo is helping to support water replenishment by restoring forests in California following the devastating 2018 wildfire season and subsequent damage from mudslides, including degraded soil, water and air quality. We invested over $1.5 million in the Arbor Day Foundation California Wildfire Restoration Project and its goal of restoring large swaths of private lands, which are often omitted from governmental revitalization efforts. The Foundation expects to plant more than 880,000 trees, leading to replenishment of 458 million gallons of water per year by 2022.
Landscape restoration and biodiversity improvements
Water for the Planet Partnership in Latin America
Since 2016, PepsiCo has leveraged its global partnership with The Nature Conservancy to preserve fresh water throughout Latin America, working directly with farmers, landowners, businesses and communities to implement efficient irrigation technology, protect upstream forests and work on Water Funds intervention areas to replenish at-risk watersheds.
Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range near Monterrey, Mexico; photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.
Through our program, Water for the Planet, we support watershed conservation projects in the countries of Colombia (Bogotá), Mexico (Monterrey and Valle de Mexico), Brazil (São Paulo), Guatemala (Guatemala City), Peru (Lima, since 2020) and the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo) to generate positive long-term impacts that enhance the supply and quality of water and improve the livelihoods of those in surrounding areas. As part of PepsiCo’s water replenishment goal, from 2016 through 2020, Water for the Planet replenished more than 511 million liters of water per year to the seven participating watersheds through conservation efforts across more than 677 hectares of native ecosystems. Our work with The Nature Conservancy has benefited 2,600 families directly and contributed to aquifer health with the potential to benefit more than 42 million people living and working in these crucial watersheds of Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Peru.
Landscape restoration in the Greater Cape Town region, South Africa
Water security has received increased attention in the Greater Cape Town region primarily due to the “Day Zero” warning that the city faced in 2018. Over two-thirds of the source areas serving the Greater Cape Town region have been occupied by invasive alien plants, generally trees that quickly replace native species if unmanaged.
Invasive plants alter soil ecology, increase the frequency and severity of wildfires, and significantly affect river flow and aquifer recharge. They also have deeper rooting systems than native fynbos (fine-leaved plant) species and are able to access more groundwater even in times of low rainfall, threatening the diversity of native plant life in the Cape Floral region and altering the habitat of native fauna. This is a critical ecosystem – South Africa is one of six “floral kingdoms” in the world where over 70% of the 9,500 plant species occur nowhere else on earth. PepsiCo is supporting landscape treatments through invasive species removal by partnering with TNC to support the Greater Cape Town Water Fund. Not only is this project restoring ecosystem functions and replenishing water to Cape Town’s key source catchments, it is also conserving and restoring biodiversity in a critical and unique landscape.
Through this partnership, 184 hectares of alien invasive plants were removed from the Du Toit’s Catchment and another 274 hectares of alien invasive plants were removed from the Oliphant’s Catchment for a total estimated replenishment of 290 million liters. Since 2018, the partnership has assisted in providing access to jobs, primarily for women and young adults and which benefit the environment. Specialized rope access skills are required to work in some of the catchment areas and Likhona Lethu is the first women-owned small business in South Africa to be trained in specialized remote access work.
Saving water and wildlife in Belgium
PepsiCo is committed to improving the health of watersheds wherever we operate, and is supporting two innovative projects designed to improve freshwater levels near two of our manufacturing plants in Belgium’s Flanders region.
Freshwater scarcity in this region is the result of global climate change and years of intensive local agriculture projects. The shortage has affected native and migratory birds and led to water-use restrictions for area residents, as well as financial losses for farmers from lost livestock and reduced crop yields caused by salt-contaminated water.
We’ve begun a five-year partnership with Belgian NGO Natuurpunt for the rehabilitation of two nature preserves: De Blankaart, near the Veurne snacks plant, and Uitkerkse Polder, neighboring PepsiCo’s Zeebrugge manufacturing plant. We have also pledged to implement new processes, like water recycling, as part of our global goal of replenishing more than 100% of our operational water use in high water-risk areas.
Much of Natuurpunt’s work is deceptively simple, such as creating pools and trenches to allow rainwater to sink into the ground and avoid contamination by salt water. It can then be collected, treated and used for irrigation. In addition to creating new ditch patterns, solar-powered pumps will be installed to control water levels, preventing runoff and saltwater seepage. Another aim will be to recreate hundreds of acres of meadows and grasslands damaged by development. Natuurpunt will examine old sketches and topographical maps to determine how to restore the terrain, manage water flow and mitigate runoff.
Wetlands restoration in Pakistan
As part of PepsiCo’s community water stewardship efforts in Lahore, Pakistan, we partnered with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to install an initial floating treatment wetland. With this intervention, 150 floating mats holding 2,100 plants with pollutant-eating bacteria in their roots are placed on the pond’s surface, providing wastewater treatment and broader ecosystem benefits. Floating treatment wetlands provide habitat for wildlife, and with the wetlands’ improved functionality, water quality in connected ponds improves, creating a native plant habitat and a nesting ground for birds.
Alliance for Water Stewardship
Implementing the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard
PepsiCo is a member of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), and we aim to adopt the AWS Standard at all of our high water-risk facilities by 2025.
Adopting the AWS Standard is helping us identify and pursue opportunities to be better water stewards at the local level. This includes working with local stakeholders to understand the unique challenges of the watershed and focusing our efforts on collective action and advocacy for better water governance.
In 2019, we piloted the AWS Standard at three manufacturing locations in South Africa, Pakistan and Mexico, and in 2020, we expanded AWS Standard adoption to sites in seven additional countries. The AWS Standard has provided an effective framework for bringing together cross-functional operations, agriculture, public policy and government affairs, environmental, health and safety, and supply chain associates, helping to identify and address local watershed opportunities and guiding the teams to work with local stakeholders to improve conditions for all.
Spotlight: Fully adopting the AWS Standard in Pakistan
PepsiCo’s snacks plant in Sundar, Pakistan (a high water-risk site) was one of our first manufacturing facilities to pilot the AWS Standard, and the first to fully adopt it in line with our overall commitment to water stewardship. Their 2020 accomplishments included:
30% improvement in water-use efficiency versus 2019 – equal to conservation of 100 million liters of water.
10 million liters of water replenished in the Sundar watershed mainly through rainwater harvesting and treated wetlands, which directly benefited 55,000 people in surrounding communities.
Ten of our sites around the world were in the process of adopting the AWS Standard in 2020, including eight in Asia, Middle East and South Africa (Sundar in Pakistan, Parow in South Africa, Multan in Pakistan, Minya in Egypt, Channo and Pune in India, and Dammam and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia); one with Frito-Lay North America in Rancho Cucamonga, California, U.S.; and one in Latin America at Vallejo in Mexico.
Safe Water Access
Over the last 15 years, PepsiCo and The PepsiCo Foundation have helped more than 55 million people gain access to safe water through distribution, purification and conservation programs – putting PepsiCo and The PepsiCo Foundation more than halfway to our goal of providing access to safe water for 100 million people by 2030.2
The PepsiCo Foundation has invested more than $53 million in safe water access programs, catalyzing nearly $700 million in additional funding from other donors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for safe water access and sanitation services more important than ever. Water is critical for treating and preventing the virus, as well as building long-term resilience in our communities. That’s why we have announced new water programs in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and South Africa designed to help communities recover and rebuild from the pandemic, including building sanitation facilities and community water systems, providing loans to families to build water infrastructure in their homes, supporting local water entrepreneurs, installing community water access points and helping to rehabilitate natural springs.
Partnering to provide safe water access
Recognizing that access to water is a human right, PepsiCo’s safe water access work through multiple partnerships focuses on distribution, purification and conservation programs in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal #6: Ensure the availability and sustainable management of clean water and sanitation for all.
Improving clean drinking water access to urban communities in Pakistan
The PepsiCo Foundation is working with WaterAid to bring transformational change to underserved urban communities in Pakistan by improving access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. This ongoing three-year partnership that began in 2019, is expected to benefit 40,000 individuals and provide communities, healthcare facilities and schools with sustainable access to clean drinking water.
Supporting groundwater purification in India
The inability of low-income communities to obtain safe drinking water is a significant public health challenge in India. Building on a history of support for small water enterprises, The PepsiCo Foundation has partnered with Safe Water Network to expand safe water access and strengthen community awareness and understanding of critical water, sanitation and hygiene behaviors in Telangana, India. The partnership will provide sustainable and affordable safe drinking water to the region’s poor through decentralized safe water stations.
Water access and sanitation solutions in South Africa
The PepsiCo Foundation is working with four organizations in South Africa to provide safe access to water and sanitation solutions for over 80,000 people in vulnerable communities. The programs aim to help to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus while providing dignity to communities suffering from a lack of sanitation infrastructure. The programs offer a wide spectrum of solutions, ranging from handwashing stations coupled with education and awareness campaigns, to the installation of pour flush toilets and more in-depth projects incorporating partnerships with communities to rehabilitate natural springs, to ensure sustainable access to safe clean water.
COVID-19 emergency response: handwashing stations and hygiene messaging
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, PepsiCo supported WaterAid’s global emergency response with the installation of handwashing stations and mass media awareness campaigns. In Pakistan and India, The PepsiCo Foundation helped fund a prevention campaign that reached more than 24 million people with crucial messages on social distancing and handwashing with soap.
Reaching indigenous communities in rural Colombia
The PepsiCo Foundation partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank and WaterAid to build community water systems and sanitation facilities in the harsh, arid region of La Guajira, Colombia. Clean water will transform lives and livelihoods for indigenous Wayuu people in 16 isolated, rural communities.
Providing safe water access to water-scarce communities in India
The PepsiCo Foundation and WaterAid have partnered to enhance water access in South India for many years, increasing access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to over 270,000 people in Sri City, Nelamangala and Palakkad.
Additionally, The PepsiCo Foundation is investing $3 million through 2023 to extend access to water programs to our agricultural supply chain in India. The PepsiCo Foundation and WaterAid will promote sustainable agricultural practices and improve water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in farming communities in West Bengal and Maharashtra, which are facing urgent water crises.
1. Measured versus a 2015 baseline.
2. Our new goal replaces our previous 2025 goal to provide access to safe water to 25 million people that was exceeded in 2019.