What do you think happens when you toss a plastic drink bottle in the recycle bin? Another gets made from it? Sadly, that hasn’t historically been true. If that plastic is repurposed it is more likely to end up as a fleece jacket or piece of treated lumber than a new bottle. But, bottle to bottle might be on the way. PepsiCo just announced that their Canadian division will be the first to create a bottle entirely made from recycled PET plastic. 7UP will be the first brand to use the EcoGreen bottle.
The expected impact is substantial. According to a study by the Association of Post Consumer Recycling, PepsiCo’s expected 6 million pound reduction in use of virgin plastic annually will result in a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and at least a 55% reduction in energy use, compared to current production levels.
While it’s certainly encouraging to see an effort of such massive scale and impact being rolled out, PepsiCo’s effort seems a bit schizophrenic. This past March they debuted the world’s first 100% plant based PET plastic bottle, and now they’re dedicating a great deal of resources to a recycled plastic bottle.
They can certainly do both, but it makes me wonder, is PepsiCo moving away from plant based bottles with the debut of this initiative? Will they integrate the two, given that their plant based bottle is recyclable in the conventional stream? Are they hedging their bets, seeing which gets the better reception? Was it market research based? Supply chain focused? It could have to do with the relatively low cost to change over to this method, as PepsiCo spent only $1 million to upgrade its numerous Canadian bottling plants to accommodate these new products.
Given this reality, and the potential impact it could have, my question to PepsiCo again is, will you license the technology/methodology to other companies? If it’s what inside that differentiates you, why not help spread the planet benefitting science to as many companies as possible, while making additional profit for yourselves?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.