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PepsiCo Reports Waste Diversion and Packaging Progress

PepsiCo reports
(Photo: PepsiCo’s Tropicana Orange Grove in Florida. Credit: PepsiCo)

PepsiCo’s 2017 sustainability report published today shows that the American multinational corporation reduced the overall amount of waste sent to landfill over the previous year, and also made progress toward their 2025 packaging design goal.

The company’s sustainability strategy, called Performance with Purpose (PwP), initially launched in 2006. It aims to expand PepsiCo’s portfolio of nutritious products, shrink their environmental footprint, and simultaneously work to lift up people and families.

One of the goals is to achieve zero waste to landfill from direct operations by 2025, Andrew Aulisi, senior director of global environmental policy at PepsiCo, told Environmental Leader. By the end of 2017, the company diverted 95% of their waste from landfill, up two percentage points from the 2016 rate.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to make use of the byproducts from our operations,” Aulisi says. “For example, we process a huge volume of oranges to produce Tropicana, and in the process end up with a significant number of orange peels. Instead of letting these peels go to waste, we are able to sell them as animal feed.”

For 2025, the company also aims to design 100% of their packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. A baseline validation and execution was under way when the 2016 sustainability report came out. In 2017, approximately 85% of worldwide packaging met the criteria, Aulisi says.

PepsiCo’s new report highlighted progress toward their packaging and waste reduction goals:

Plant-Based Bags

“We’re already piloting plant-based, bioplastic bags in three locations across the globe, including Chile, India, and here in the US,” Aulisi says. “These bags are produced from renewable resources and can be composted in industrial composting facilities.”

Earlier last year, PepsiCo and biotech firm Danimer Scientific collaborated on developing biodegradable film resin from polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) that meets the food and beverage company’s flexible packaging requirements. The first in-market PHA snack bag pilot is expected to happen in 2021. Aulisi said that the company is also working making thin film recyclable.

Increasing rPET

“We are one of the largest users of food-grade recycled PET in the US,” chairman and CEO Indra K. Nooyi said in her letter introducing the new sustainability report. “In fact, if more recycled PET were available, we’d buy it.”

Their company-owned beverage portfolio in the United States has an average of approximately 9% rPET use. In Europe, rPET use was around 16% in 2017. PepsiCo intends to continue increasing that percentage for beverage containers.

Beverage Bottles

As the company works on ensuring that most beverage packaging can be recyclable, they are also replacing materials such as labels to improve recyclability. In 2016, PepsiCo reported converting shrink sleeves on beverage containers to recyclable material for their Gatorade and Lipton Pure Leaf products.

At the 2018 Super Bowl in Minnesota, PepsiCo participated in the Rush2Recycle effort targeting zero waste at US Bank Stadium. Partners PepsiCo, Aramark, US Bank Stadium, the NFL, and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority helped the program successfully recover 91% of all the trash generated during the event.

The initiative demonstrated that people are more likely to recycle when it’s convenient, and less so when they’re on the go, Aulisi says. “By making it easier for people to recycle at such a huge venue, this was telling of how simple solutions and education can have a big impact,” he said. “We’re very proud of that achievement and the benchmark that it set.”

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