PepsiCo: The Journey of Sustainability

Editor’s Note: The following is a non-sponsored guest post by Olivier Weber, president of PepsiCo’s South America Foods division. We enjoy periodically bringing corporate voices to the 3p audience and invite your comments and thoughts.

Around the world, people are becoming increasingly aware of the impact they have on our planet. Solutions for new and innovative ways to protect the environment are proposed regularly, but it often takes those with drive and financial resources to bring these ideas to life. Multinational corporations, like PepsiCo, have the ability – and responsibility – to develop and implement new sustainable initiatives throughout their operations to help protect the Earth’s natural resources.

As a food and beverage company, PepsiCo manages a global supply chain that is focused on sustainable practices. We look at our supply chain through several lenses and have implemented various programs for each:

  • Agriculture
  • Plant Operations
  • Product Packaging
  • Display and Delivery


The first step in bringing healthy and sustainable foods to our consumers includes managing how the ingredients are grown. In South America, we developed an Agro Sustainability Program to do just that. Through this program, our team works with more than 390 farmers to increase eco-efficiency in the growth and maintenance of the 323 million pounds of potatoes and 74,000 hectares of corn, wheat and flour these farmers are responsible for. This includes helping to optimize the use of water for irrigation, energy for operations, and chemicals and fertilizers for production. On the ground, we interact and share our knowledge with local farmers by helping them identify ways to operate in a more environmentally efficient manner. For example, with PepsiCo’s help, our Brazilian potato providers now use only 17 liters of water per minute versus 50 to irrigate their farms.

Once we’ve grown and produced ingredients using sustainable agriculture practices, our next step is to ensure that our manufacturing plants operate as efficiently as possible.

Plant Operations

Nearly two years ago, we opened a “green” factory, ISO 14.001 certified, in Funza, Colombia, that incorporates many sustainable technologies, such as solar-powered lighting in all production areas. The Funza Plant’s glowing achievement is its high-efficiency water treatment system, which recycles 100 percent of all water used in production through a Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) System that separates and treats liquids and solids in water. This means that the water used in operations can actually be consumed at the end of the recycling process. PepsiCo South American Foods’ MBR System is more advanced than conventional waste water treatment plants because it requires a smaller area for operation.

We then package the resulting products for consumers to enjoy – and, as you can guess, we’ve found ways to reduce our environmental impact in this part of the process, as well.

Product Packaging

Innovation in packaging has been a long-time focus for many of PepsiCo’s business units. Over the past five years Frito-Lay’s has reduced the amount of packaging used by more than 5 million pounds through package size optimization, bag thickness and seal changes. And this year Frito-Lay launched the first-ever 100 percent compostable snack bag for its SunChips products. Additionally, the brand has partnered with Terracycle to collect extract materials from other PepsiCo snack chip bags for reuse in other consumer products, such as in-store display cases.

Display and Delivery

In Brazil we created racks made of BOPP (biaxially orientated polypropylene), the material used in our potato chip bags. These display racks help to educate consumers, each rack has a sign on the top of the display with information about how to properly dispose of snack bags. The racks are made from 100 recycled materials, take 10 percent less time to produce and are 8 percent cheaper than the PET display racks. Each rack requires 675 snack bags, and we aim to produce 20,000 racks in 2010, which would keep 13.5 million snack bags out of landfills.

At PepsiCo we are quite aware of our products’ life cycles. That’s why we’ve made a promise to protect the Earth’s natural resources. PepsiCo, like other multinational corporations, is in a position to affect positive change and alleviate some of the stress put on our planet. And we take this responsibility seriously, acting on our promise to protect the environment every day across our global operations.

Olivier Weber is the President of PepsiCo’s South America Foods division, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and other key markets. He recently spoke about sustainability in business and how PepsiCo, and its brands, are becoming more sustainable at the Milken Institute Global Conference on April 27, 2010, during a panel titled, “Steering Business Toward Sustainability.”

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