What a Waste! PepsiCo Cuts Trash-to-Landfill by 88 Percent

Snack food giant PepsiCo has its share of critics for what they see as its role mankind’s obesity issues, particularly in kids. But as yet Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist and Cracker Jack popcorn haven’t risen to the level of tobacco products. So let’s raise a glass of something natural and toast the news that PepsiCo has cut its landfill waste by 88 percent since 2008.

Recently the Purchase, N.Y-based company published an update on its “Path to Zero” program, an ambitious sustainability effort it launched two years ago and the results are encouraging. PepsiCo has reduced total energy consumption by 7.3 per cent and water use by 14.6 per cent, in addition to the dramatic drop in what it sends to the dump.

For folks who think green, as in the environment, that’s great news. For business executives who think green in terms of business, the improvements were made as revenues grew by more than 15 percent – proving that international corporations can improve their environmental impact and chew gum at the same time. Overall, PepsiCo’s carbon footprint shrunk by 3.7 per cent during the past two years.

PepsiCo President Richard Evans wrote in the introduction of the report that the company also plans to work with farmers to reduce the carbon and water impacts of their crops by 50 per cent in five years and said PepsiCo has a responsibility to persuade suppliers and other businesses of the benefits of removing carbon from the economy.

“This approach is not simply altruism,” he wrote. “I am confident of the business case. Building sustainability and health into our corporate DNA creates longer-term strategic advantage. Sustainable businesses can cut costs, drive innovation, reduce risk, and motivate employees. It can help our retail customers and increase consumer loyalty.”

The U.S. has 3,091 active landfills and more than 10,000 old municipal landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The age of many of the landfills, as well as the practices used to contain the waste, has become a major concern for environmentalists.

But reduction of waste has also become a prime element of corporate sustainability practices. Increasingly corporations are setting “zero waste-to-landfill” goals as part of their overall sustainability plans.  It doesn’t mean they stop producing waste, but rather they manage it through recycling, composting and other practices.

As part of its Path to Zero program started in 2008, PepsiCo set a target of eliminating sending waste to landfills within 10 years. Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, announced last month that it had achieved 100 percent recycling at two of its facilities in the United Kingdom. Two years ago Sunny Delight Beverage Co. set a goal to reach zero-waste goal by 2013. Remarkably, it reached that goal at its seven manufacturing sites last year, eliminating about 1,140 tons of waste it sent to landfills annually.

3 responses

  1. I just watched the Tapped documentary last week. It’s not only the landfills that we need to be concerned with – it’s the oceans that get plastic trash. Nonetheless, the folks at Pepsi are on the right track.

    1. Anytime a global monolith reports significant reductions in its environmental impact is good news. But it’s end user waste that’s creating the plastic island. It’s great that the company is using less to get its plastic bottled beverages to market. But the end product is still plastic bottles.

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