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PepsiCo’s the Latest Voice in the Loud Sustainable Packaging Conversation

PepsiCo is the latest CPG company touting its commitment to reduce packaging waste, having announced that it has joined the New Plastics Economy initiative as a “core partner.” The initiative, launched in London in May 2016, brings together industry, government, NGOs and others to build a more sustainable global plastics value chain. Other core partners with the New Plastics Economy Initiative include Amcor, Coca Cola, Danone, Mars Incorporated, Nestle, Novamont, Unilever and Veolia.

PepsiCo says its participation in the initiative supports the company’s previously announced goals to strive for 100% of its packaging to be recoverable or recyclable by 2025 and to work within the industry to increase packaging recovery and recycling rates.

This is another in a series of announcements from the beverage giant on how it plans to reach its sustainable packaging goals, including an agreement with biotechnology leader Danimer Scientific to develop biodegradable film resins for thin film packaging.

A recent study from Smithers Pira indicated that retailers and manufacturers say sustainable packaging is no longer just “nice to have,” but is something they expect from the packaging industry. Packaging materials are extremely visible to the consumer, and retailers, packaged product suppliers, governments, regulators, NGOs and environmental groups are placing intense and growing pressures on packaging manufacturers to develop environmentally-friendly materials, packaging designs and end-of-life processes.

A number of consumer-facing companies have become increasingly vocal about the need for partnerships within the packaging industry in order to tackle waste, while simultaneously announcing their own sustainable packaging initiatives. These include:

Amazon: Amazon’s Packaging Certification Guidelines have been a hot topic within the sustainable packaging industry. Amazon says its Frustration Free Packaging eliminated nearly 83 million corrugated boxes last year, and that the company now has 1.1 million items available in certified packaging. In terms of moving the needle on an industry that offers sustainable packaging, Amazon says the most important thing is that companies work together to educate the industry on the impact of sustainable packaging on customer satisfaction and on cost savings.

Target: The retailer says it will use its “power and scale” to be a catalyst for change in the industry and advance the idea that all packaging will be recyclable one day, and to help consumers understand how and why recycling is so important. With that in mind, the retailer has joined the Material Recovery Facility of the Future, a collaborative committed to seeing that flexible packaging is recycled and that the recovery community captures value from it. The announcement is one of Target’s five new sustainable packaging goals.

–L’Oreal: The company is increasing reuse and recycling of waste by boosting material recovery at all L’Oreal sites. The beauty company is working with Suez, a company that provides solutions for the sustainable management of resources, to create processes that will improve resource management throughout its industrial, administrative and research centers, both in France and worldwide.Unilever: The company has pledged that 100% of its plastic packaging will be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. In partnership with Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Germany, Unilever has developed new technology called the CreaSolv Process, to recover plastic from used sachets and create new sachets for Unilever products with the recovered material.

Procter & Gamble: in partnership with recycling and environmental management companies TerraCycle and Suez, P&G developed the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from up to 25% recycled beach plastic.
Coke: the company says sustainable sourcing plays a key role in the company’s new sustainable packaging strategy and advancements in PlantBottle packaging. Coca-Cola has been producing a partially bio-based PlantBottle since 2009.Ikea and Target have also recently pledged to reduce packaging and cut out harmful packaging materials.
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