PepsiCo to launch range of 100% recycled plastic packaging by 2020

PepsiCo has this week unveiled plans to purchase 100% recycled plastic for some of its packaging lines by 2020, after the company was named by Greenpeace as one of the largest corporate plastic polluters in the world.

The US-based food and drink business has partnered with plastic innovation firm Loop to purchase a supply of recycled PET (rPET), which it claims it will incorporate into its packaging for the first time in early 2020.

Loop claims that its recycling method can recycle “low-value” plastic waste streams into food-grade packaging, regardless of plastic colour, transparency and condition.

The partnership will also see PepsiCo launch a new marketing and communications project to raise awareness of the importance of recycling, sustainability and the circular economy.

“Loop’s technology enables PepsiCo to be a leading force in ensuring plastic packaging need never become waste,” PepsiCo’s chief scientific officer and vice chairman Mehmood Khan said. “This partnership represents a step-change that will empower PepsiCo in our drive towards creating a circular economy for plastics.”

The move forms part of PepsiCo’s commitment to make all of its packaging either recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025. The company is notably a member of the UK Plastics Pact, which sees signatories pledge to eliminate single-use packaging through redesign by 2025.

Branded pollution

PepsiCo’s partnership with Loop comes shortly after the company was named as the world’s second-largest corporate plastic polluter, behind rival firm the Coca-Cola Company, in a damning new report from Greenpeace. Released on Wednesday (October 10), the campaign group’s Break Free From Plastic report reveals the findings of the campaign group’s latest string of organised clean-ups at rivers, canals and beaches across the globe, categorising each piece of plastic litter collected by brand.

Over the course of 239 clean-ups in 42 countries across six continents, volunteers collected more than 180,000 pieces of plastic. According to the report, packaging produced by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé collectively accounted for 14% of the branded items retrieved during the clean-ups.

In total, 10,000 volunteers removed 9,216 pieces of Coca-Cola’s packaging, 5,720 PepsiCo-branded items and 2,950 Nestlé-branded items during the clean-ups.

Break Free From Plastic campaign co-ordinator Van Hernandez said the report offers “undeniable proof” of the role that corporations play in creating the eight million tonnes of plastic finding its way into oceans annually.

“By continuing to churn out problematic plastic packaging for their products, these companies are guilty of trashing the planet on a massive scale,” Hernandez said. “It’s time they own up to their major role in plastic pollution and stop shifting the blame to citizens and cities for their wasteful and polluting products.”

Corporate action

The report comes shortly after Coca-Cola launched a new global plan to address its plastics impact, with a headline aim to collect one bottle or can for everyone it sells, in a bid to recycle the equivalent of all of its packaging by 2030. Notably, the company’s largest independent bottler Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has also committed to ensuring that all of its bottles contained at least 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic by 2020. 

In a bid to drive change outside of its own operations, CCEP is additionally lobbying the UK Government for changes to Producer Responsibility Obligations (PRO) and the introduction of a nationwide deposit-return scheme for plastic bottles.

As for Nestlé, the company is striving to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 as part of its ambition to become a zero-waste business. Nestlé has also vowed to play an “active role” in the development of recycling schemes across the countries where it operates.

Sarah George

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