Pepsi promotes positive water impact, admits recycling challenge

PepsiCo saved 14 billion litres of water across its global operations last year, thanks to a 20% improvement in water-use efficiency, according to the company's latest sustainability report.

The 2013 Corporate Sustainability Report notes that new technologies helped facilitate higher levels of water recycling in Pepsi factories across the globe. (Scroll down for full water report).

For example, a Pepsi manufacturing plant in Colombia was able to reuse 75% of its water using a high-efficiency water reclamation system to produce recycled water that meets US Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards.

PepsiCo also pledged to remove its main UK factories from the water grid by 2018. To do this, the firm explained that it will capture water from the potatoes it fries to make Walkers crisps, and recycle it around the factories.

“Water is the fuel that allows our business, and the communities across the world of which we are a part, to flourish,” said senior director of sustainable development Dan Bena. “We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to be responsible stewards of this limited resource.”

The sustainability report also reiterates PepsiCo’s policy of being ‘water positive’ in countries it operates in, having returned five billion litres of water to India where it runs 41 plants. Positive water balance is achieved by returning more water than is used in manufacturing, through in-plant conservation and agricultural initiatives such as direct seeding of paddy rice fields or drip irrigation of potatoes.

Earlier this year, soft-drink rival Coca-Cola announced it had improved its water-use efficiency by 21.4% since 2004, but the firm was forced to close a plant in India after local farmers blamed it for using too much water.


PepsiCo reported it is now zero waste to landfill across all UK manufacturing and distribution sites. Globally, the company still sends 7.2% of its total waste to landfill.

However, the firm did admit falling short on another key waste pledge: making all Walkers crisps packaging renewable or recyclable.

The company said: “We continue to look for alternative primary packaging materials for our Walkers brands that meet this commitment while also preserving the contents, appealing to consumers and being affordable. At present, we have not identified any workable solutions that would help us to meet this target.”


The company reported mixed success on its energy initiatives, emitting more than four million metric tons of C02 equivalents in 2013 ‒ the same amount as 2008.

The firm claimed the results were still positive, as its production volume has grown 9% for foods and 17% for beverages, resulting in a net 15% reduction in energy-use/kg of production.

In the supply chain, Pepsi says it has trialled hybrid diesel-electric trucks and double-decker trailers, which could form the basis for its future distribution fleet.

Last week, PepsiCo announced a goal that by 2020 all of its future point-of-sale equipment (coolers, vending machines and fountain dispensers) purchased in the US will be free from hazardous hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

REPORT: Pepsi’s 2013 water work 

 Brad Allen

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