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PepsiCo’s First 100% Recycled Bottle in Canada. What Happened to Plants?

| Friday July 29th, 2011 | 5 Comments

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?

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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.


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  • http://www.iwantfreshnews.com Erik Wolfe

    Wondering if the preponderance of existing bottles factored into the decision?

    Growing plants processed into plastic and then bottles might actually use more energy. Also from a business standpoint it must be cheaper to buy recycled plastic (in essence garbage) than pay to grow and process the plants into bottles.

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    You’re probably right re factoring existing bottles. Regarding their plant based bottles, they’re plant/ag waste based, making use of a stream that wouldn’t otherwise get a secondary use, and therefore an additional source of waste diversion, as compared to plastic, which is already recycled for other uses. Have a look at this article I did on it earlier. http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/03/pepsis-new-100-plant-based-fully-recyclable-plastic-bottle-good-keep/

    • Aussiemandias

      Paul, do you know what happening to this bottle? I tried asking them, but there was no response. It appears to have died a quiet death.

  • http://goo.gl/savue Daniela

    Seriously, plastic bottles were not recycled into bottles before? If plant based bottles actually biodegrade it definitely seems like a step in the right direction, but using existing plastic really seems to make sense.

  • A T Sullivan

    This is not unique technology, the chemical process is well known. The biggest difference is that Coke is using Sugar cane from Brazil as raw plant material for conversion (which has whole host of social, cultural and environmental issues) while Pepsi is using agricultural waste and switch grass which can be grown easily and quickly on degraded land anywhere. I vote for Pepsi.