The drinks brand has teamed up with conservation outfit the Nature Conservancy to form an initiative called ‘Recycle for Nature’ to roll out the bins, as part of its goal to help raise US beverage container recycling rates from 42% to 50% by 2018.

According to a PepsiCo national survey, 81% of Americans say they would recycle beverage containers at a retail location if proper bins were available. At away-from-home locations, recycling bins are available only 12% of the time.

The project is part of PepsiCo’s collaboration with Walmart to increase recycling and investment in the closed-loop fund, a programme that will provide financing to municipalities whose goal is to provide people access to recycling when and where they need it.

PepsiCo’s Americas Beverages CEO Al Carey said the initiative should help address growing public demand for more convenient recycling drop-off points. “This is a huge opportunity that has been largely unaddressed until now. The easier we can make it to recycle, the more likely people are to recycle. And by giving consumers the added incentive of helping protect our watersheds, we can make an impact.”

Water stress

Carey added that the partnership will give consumers another incentive to recycle – protecting drinking water at its source. For every one point increase in the US beverage container recycling rate each year, PepsiCo has pledged to make an additional donation to The Nature Conservancy with the goal of reaching up to $1m in total each year for five years.

The goal is to save and restore one billion gallons of water over a five-year period in rivers that supply water to more than 35 million people across nine states. PepsiCo will also support awareness and habitat improvement initiatives in The Nature Conservancy’s Green Swamp Preserve in North Carolina.

The Nature Conservancy’s CEO Mark Tercek said that already-stressed water sources will face unprecedented pressure as the world’s population grows. “Protecting the rivers that provide clean, reliable water for people and nature is one of the smartest investments that forward-thinking companies can make.”

On a wider level, PepsiCo has reduced its water usage at its production plants by more than 20% per unit since 2006. Last year it announced a new commitment to provide access to safe water to an additional three million people over the next three years through continued partnerships with water organisations, doubling the company’s original goal.

PepsiCo and The Nature Conservancy will kick off this latest initiative by expanding a pilot programme that PepsiCo has been running in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since 2012 in collaboration with Kum & Go convenience stores and gas stations. The goal for this near-term expansion is to drive a tenfold increase in the number of recycling bins in the area.

Maxine Perella

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