PepsiCo to use 25% recycled content in plastics packaging by 2025

Beverage giant PepsiCo has revamped its approach to plastics by pledging to use 25% recycled content in plastic packaging by 2025 and working with suppliers and partners to advocate for improved recycling infrastructure and policy across the globe.

The new goal builds on PepsiCo’s 2016 Performance with Purpose sustainability strategy, which incorporates a goal to design 100% of the company’s packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.

PepsiCo notes that working with suppliers and partners on infrastructure and policy reform will enable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage bottles to incorporate 33% recycled PET content by 2025.

“PepsiCo’s sustainable plastics vision is to build a PepsiCo where plastics need never become waste. We intend to achieve that vision by reducing, recycling and reusing, and reinventing our plastic packaging – and leading global change through partnerships,” PepsiCo’s chief scientific officer, Dr Mehmood Khan said.

“Already, PepsiCo is one of the world’s largest users of food-grade recycled PET. To further boost recycled content across all plastic packaging and drive progress towards a circular economy for plastics, it is vital to dramatically increase global waste collection and recycling rates through investment in recycling infrastructure and technology.”

It is likely that lobbying for policy reform will lead to varying levels of recycled content being incorporated across different markets, based on current infrastructure levels and policy frameworks. In the European Union, for example, PepsiCo is working towards a goal of achieving 50% recycled PET in its bottles by 2030.

The new target was approved by PepsiCo’s new chief executive Ramon Laguarta, who took up the position earlier this month. Having spent 22 years at the company, Laguarta has outlined his intentions as chief executive as part of a LinkedIn post.

“On my first day as chief executive, I pledged that among my most important priorities would be continuing to lead PepsiCo with purpose, drive sustainable growth, and minimise our environmental footprint,” Laguarta posted.

“I know that if we collaborate with our suppliers, commit to increasing consumer education, foster cross-industry and public-private partnerships, and advocate for improved recycling infrastructure and regulatory reform, we can take important steps towards achieving our goal.”

Line in the sand

The new packaging goal builds on PepsiCo’s agreement to the Ellen MacArthur Foundations’ New Plastic Economy pledge, which has seen more than 250 organisations agree to eliminate plastic pollution at the source.

PepsiCo is a signatory to the agreement, alongside the likes of Danone, Unilever, Mars, The Coca-Cola Company and L’Oreal. Major packaging producers including Amcor and Mondi, as well as waste management firms like Veolia, Plastic Energy and SUEZ, have also signed up to the commitment. Signatories account for 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally.

Earlier this month, PepsiCo agreed to a multi-year supply deal with Loop Industries to start using 100% recycled PET material in its product packaging by mid-2020. Earlier in the year, The PepsiCo Foundation and non-profit The Recycling Partnership launch an industry-wide residential recycling challenge in the US.

Matt Mace

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