Packaging plays an essential role in safely delivering our products to customers and consumers. As a business, we design our packaging materials around several critical criteria, including compliance with food safety regulations, freshness and quality of the product, environmental sustainability, affordability, and consumer preferences, including convenience. At the beginning of every packaging design effort, we balance these criteria to arrive at a final packaging design.
We recognize that packaging is often disposed of improperly after a product has been consumed, and we share the concern that plastics and other wastes are accumulating in the marine environment and on land. These materials have value, and we are working on a broad set of solutions to ensure that they do not end up as litter or in a landfill. The following goals make up our 2025 packaging sustainability agenda:
- Strive to design 100 percent of our packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable,
- Strive to use 25 percent recycled content in our plastic packaging by collaborating with our suppliers, helping to increase consumer education, fostering cross-industry and public-private partnerships, and advocating for improved recycling infrastructure and regulatory reform, all of which are required to realize our ambition, and
- In partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation, work to increase recycling rates.
The problem of waste and litter is a challenging issue that involves a complex system of actors, including many companies along the packaging value chain, retail and sales outlets, waste management and recycling industries, governments and consumers. As a result, 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.
PepsiCo recognizes that policy makers are also looking for solutions to the litter problem, especially marine plastics, 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 have adopted a proactive and pragmatic stance in our discussions with policy makers. We believe it is critical for PepsiCo and other industry members to be part of the policy discussion and are especially eager to engage when a policy proposal is broad based, delivers strong environmental outcomes, provides incentives for sustainability and gives us a seat at the table in designing and implementing programs.
We believe that recycling and composting industries should be viewed by governments as a vital opportunity for clean technology investment and growth. In addition to the investments that PepsiCo and other companies make in research and development, purchasing recycled content, consumer education, and financial contributions to improving recycling collection, we encourage policy makers to support the recycling industry in further ways. In particular, policy makers can support public funding and incentives that encourage collection and reuse of post-consumer material, expand and modernize processing capacity, use more recycled material in infrastructure projects, promote greater private-sector investment, and help inform consumers on effective recycling practices.
Our Sustainable Plastics Vision
Among our packaging material types, we recognize that plastic packaging in particular has caused significant concern. PepsiCo’s sustainable plastics vision is to build a world where plastics need never become waste. We aim to achieve that vision by reducing, recycling, and reinventing our plastic packaging --- and leading change through partnerships. Our vision is based on three inter-connected strategies:
- Reduce: Reduce the plastic that we use.
- Recycle: Support a circular economy for plastics.
- Reinvent: Improve the packaging and plastic that we use.
Through each of these three strategies, PepsiCo will Partner: Lead change through active partnerships and stakeholder engagement
Reduce: Reduce the plastic that we use.
We are working to reduce our plastic use by minimizing plastic used in our packaging and by exploring alternative low impact, environmentally-friendly packaging materials and delivery mechanisms. To meet consumers’ individual needs while delivering high-quality beverages without single-use plastic bottles, we are working to expand our portfolio of options that go Beyond the Bottle. For example:
- PepsiCo’s acquisition of SodaStream, in early 2019, has brought into the PepsiCo family an alternative means of providing consumers with beverage options prepared at home using reusable bottles. One SodaStream bottle will help the average family reduce more than 3,700 bottles and cans, for every one SodaStream bottle, from our planet.
- In 2018, we released Drinkfinity in the U.S. and Europe, after piloting the product in Brazil. Drinkfinity is a customizable hydration system that uses pods that pop into the top of a reusable vessel to be mixed with water. These pods contain up to 65 percent less plastic than a comparable 20oz ready-to-drink beverage bottle. To ensure recycling of the pods, we have introduced a program for U.S. consumers to mail used pods straight to a recycling facility in North America. We are working to set-up a similar recycling program in Europe.
- We are currently testing a new hydration platform, which enables consumers to dispense customized water options, including flavors like peach or raspberry lime, sparkling or still water, into refillable personal containers. We also introduced the Pepsi Spire, which offer consumers on-the-go convenience using alternative and reusable receptacles.
We are also working to reduce plastic usage in our snacks portfolio. Our research and development team is currently undertaking a project to ensure ‘right size’ snack packages using an improved packaging technology. Part of this effort includes analyzing secondary and tertiary packaging used in shipping, to further reduce packaging materials used. Through these efforts PepsiCo will be able to reduce packaging materials used for the same volume of product.
Recycle: Support a circular plastic economy for plastics.
Increasing recycling rates supports a circular economy by ensuring an end use of each package put into the market, thus preventing waste and protecting the environment. We are working and partnering to increase consumer recycling by:
Designing packaging that is 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable
While much of our beverage packaging is recyclable, we recognize that there are components of our packaging that may inhibit recyclability. To address this, we are currently integrating design for recyclability into our ideation and design process for all new products through a business wide program. Some impediments such as non-recyclable labels, colorants, and PVC have already been phased out in some markets. For example, within our Tropicana line, we have successfully converted non-recyclable labels on all 89oz and 118oz bottles. Learnings from this project will be critical in our efforts to transition our global beverage portfolio to be 100 percent recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.
Investing in Recycling Infrastructure
While we work on designing sustainable packaging, we acknowledge that just as important is the infrastructure that enables recycling and promoting a culture that encourages it. Recovery and recycling rates throughout the world have significant opportunity for improvement, and while we cannot change those rates on our own, we have a role to play in supporting them through our own investments and partnerships with industry peers, non-governmental organizations and governments.
In the United States, for example, PepsiCo Recycling works in local communities to implement various on-the-go programs and partnerships to improve recycling infrastructure and raise awareness. PepsiCo Recycling tests new approaches and expands relationships with recycling agencies through over 600 programs with municipalities and commercial sites. Read more about PepsiCo’s work to improve recycling in the United States here.
In October 2018, the PepsiCo Foundation became the first investor in Circulate Capital, which aims to catalyse investment in solutions to reduce ocean plastic pollution in South and Southeast Asia. The fund, created with Closed Loop Partners and The Ocean Conservancy, among other partners, will finance initiatives that aim to improve waste collection and processing.
In India, PepsiCo runs a recycling initiative in partnership with Gem Enviro Management using reverse vending machines (RVM), collection vans, electric rickshaws, collection centers and collection points across Delhi to enable collection and recycling of used PET bottles. One important aspect of this initiative is the training and development of participants in the informal recycling sector as they are an important contributor to the plastic waste management value chain.
In the United Kingdom, we have launched a nation-wide program to recycle chip bags with recycling company, TerraCycle. Consumers drop any brand of chip packet into one of many collection points after which the bags will be recycled and converted to plant pots, park benches, watering cans, and other items.
Increasing Use of Recycled Plastic Content in Our Packaging Materials
PepsiCo is currently one of the largest users of food grade rPET. We are working to qualify new rPET suppliers and technologies to further increase rPET in our packaging to reach 25 percent recycled content in our packaging.
To support this effort, in 2018, we invested in Loop Industries to purchase production capacity from Loop’s joint venture facility in the U.S. and incorporate LoopTM PET plastic, which is 100 percent recycled material, into our product packaging by mid-2020. Loop’s transformational chemical recycling technology allows low value plastics to be recycled continuously into new, virgin-quality plastic. This means that plastic bottles and packaging of any color, transparency or condition, as well as carpet, clothing and other polyester textiles that may contain colors, dyes or additives, and even ocean plastics that have been degraded by sun and salt can be converted into food-grade packaging. This recycled plastic will make an important contribution to accelerating PepsiCo’s progress towards our 2025 goal to use 25 percent recycled content in our plastic packaging.
Investing in Consumer Education
As we work to increase the sustainability of our packaging, it is important for consumers to understand how and why to properly dispose of used packaging. We are engaged in many projects globally to improve communication and education around recycling for our consumers.
PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally is a free recycling program designed specifically for K-12 schools across the U.S. It provides exclusive access to resources and incentives to inspire students and their communities to recycle. Nearly 6,000 schools - including 4,000 schools currently enrolled - have participated in Recycle Rally over the past eight years (2010-2017) to collect more than 320 million plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
In 2019 PepsiCo launched Recycling with Purpose, a circular economy model that will promote recycling in Latin America and the Caribbean. One of Recycling with Purpose’s three main components is a consumer incentive approach that helps educate and involve consumers in recycling. This consumer platform will be expanded to 10 countries in Latin America over the next two years and will provide recycling awareness to almost one million people in 2019 through social media in seven countries.
In order to encourage and educate consumers on how to recycle our beverages, PepsiCo also communicates these important messages through on-pack labels. For example, in France we are part of a consumer awareness initiative called Pensez au Tri. This is a labeling system designed to give on-pack recycling instructions for each product. We have successfully transitioned 100 percent of our packaging in France to include information on waste sorting.
Similarly, in the U.S., our Quaker brand uses the How2Recycle label. How2Recycle is a simple on pack logo indicating in a clear and concise way, how to recycle each component of a package, with additional information on its website about local recycling resources and consumer education videos.
Reinvent: Improve Packaging & Plastics
As a top producer of consumer packaged food & beverages, we must continue to innovate and reinvent our packaging. We strive to be on the leading edge of sustainable packaging and will continue to reinvent our packaging.
In January 2019, PepsiCo announced a partnership with TerraCycle to launch a new initiative called Loop. The Loop initiative will pilot a model that delivers products in refillable containers to consumers in Paris. This initiative exemplifies PepsiCo’s commitment to a circular economy and a shift towards innovative packaging models.
In 2018 PepsiCo joined The NaturALL Bottle Alliance, a research consortium with consumer packaged goods industry leaders and a bio-based materials development company, Origin Materials, to accelerate the development of innovative packaging solutions made with sustainable and renewable resources, including post-consumer cardboard, thus creating additional end market demand for this material.
While using renewable resources for packaging can be a more sustainable alternative to non-renewable resources, these biofeedstocks must be sourced in a responsible and sustainable way, ensuring sufficient land use for food sources and being mindful of environmental impact. To this end, PepsiCo has joined the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance, a multi-stakeholder alliance convened by the World Wildlife Fund, which aims to improve awareness around the environmental and social impacts of sources for bioplastics.
Developing Solutions to Flexible Films
Flexible films, the packaging used for our snacks, are a beneficial material for transporting our products to consumers. They are lightweight and ensure food reaches consumers in a safe and fresh condition. Flexible films are critical for our snacks packaging, yet across the industry these films are not yet recyclable or compostable. To address this challenge, PepsiCo is leveraging our research and development expertise to create innovative packaging and is working with partners to improve technology to recycle or compost flexible films.
In 2017, PepsiCo announced an agreement with biotechnology firm Danimer Scientific to develop biodegradable film resins to be used for next-generation snacks packaging. In contrast with traditional plastic, Danimer’s Nodax™ PHA bioplastic, which is produced using renewable biomass, can be incorporated into this next-generation packaging, which is compostable under a variety of conditions. Danimer recently expanded its pilot production capability and acquired a new facility in Kentucky to produce commercial scale PHA.
Throughout 2017 and 2018 we launched pilots of biobased plastic bags in three geographic locations. In the United States, we began packaging Tostitos in these bags for certain food service accounts. We are testing the acceptance of biobased bags with consumers in Chile and India for select lines of our Lay’s potato chips. These bags are made with renewable resources and are compostable in industrial composting facilities.
We are also collaborating with organizations such as the Materials Recovery for the Future Collaborative in the U.S. and Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) in Europe to find solutions for recovery of flexible snacks packaging, working to make it a part of the circular economy.
While a significant portion of our packaging portfolio is made of plastic and remains an area of priority and focus, we emphasize sustainability in all of our packaging - however comprised. For example, PepsiCo seeks to purchase only responsibly sourced wood fiber products and will not knowingly accept from its supply chain paper-based packaging that may contain wood fiber harvested illegally or sourced from protected forest areas.
Partner: Lead Change Through Active Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement
Underpinning the strategic pillars of our sustainable packaging strategy is broad engagement with partners and other stakeholders to collectively drive change. We develop partnerships within and across all three of our pillars: reduce, recycle and reinvent. These partnerships range from consumer awareness and education programs to research partnerships around innovative technologies and materials. Additionally, PepsiCo engages with stakeholders such as trade associations, industry coalitions, producer responsibility organizations, policy makers, and community-based organizations globally to advocate for and create a circular economy.
Our partners are key to inspiring sustainable change in the packaging waste value chain. 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.