PepsiCo makes slow progress as it embeds new sustainability strategy

Food and beverage company PepsiCo has made inroads into its new set of sustainability targets, although a year of calibrating on new baselines means that progress will have to accelerate to reach key goals.

PepsiCo’s first sustainability report since it outlined new goals across emissions, waste and sourcing revealed that many of the targets are yet to be backed with tangible process, as the company attempts to align baselines and metrics for its new set of goals.

“Last year, we doubled down on Performance with Purpose, our vision to deliver top-tier financial results over the long term in a way that’s responsive to the needs of the world around us,” PepsiCo’s chairman Indra K. Nooyi said.

“Since then, we’ve been working hard to advance our 2025 Agenda, from making more nutritious products, to limiting our environmental footprint, to empowering people and the communities where we do business.”

Winning on water

PepsiCo has made swift progress across its water targets, and recently participated in a collaborative challenge aimed at strengthening sourcing and water stewardship action plans. In fact, PespiCo was one of the top rated companies for acting and reporting on water issues, according to a Ceres report.

While PepsiCo is a quarter of the way to its 2025 goals for annual water replenishment – placing around 2.7 billion litres of water back into high-stress watersheds – the company has made slow progress across key sourcing targets.

PepsiCo doubled the amount of palm oil that is sustainably sources – from 8% to 16% – but has a target in place to source 100% by 2020. Around a third of the company’s raw material is derived from growers engaged in PepsiCo’s Sustainable Farming Initiative, but none of its sourcing supplies for these materials have been verified as sustainable yet. PepsiCo has targets in place to secure 100% third party verification for these materials in just three years.

The company is yet to make inroads in sourcing 100% of is sugar cane from sustainable sources by 2020, and modest progress has been made on its halving food waste and 100% recyclable packaging goals.

For emissions, PepsiCo has a target in place to secure a 20% reduction by 2030 from operations and supply chains. Progress to date has seen these emissions fall by 1%.

In October last year, the firm, which owns the Pepsi, Tropicana and Walkers Crisps UK brands among others, announced the set of 18 new targets across the areas of ‘People, Planet and Products’, which have been mapped against the UN’s recently-adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

More recently, the company was named alongside Unilever and Nestlé, being accused of complicity in the destruction of Sumatra’s last tract of rainforest shared by elephants, orangutans, rhinos, and tigers.

Matt Mace

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