Sustainability alert: PepsiCo reduces virgin plastic content

Sustainability alert: PepsiCo reduces virgin plastic content

Plus Cohda designs recycling identifying device and more sustainability-related news.

September 13, 2019

PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, New York, has announced a new target to reduce 35 percent of virgin plastic content across its beverage portfolio by 2025, which equates to the elimination of 2.5 million metric tons of cumulative virgin plastic. Progress will be driven by the company’s increased use of recycled content and alternative packaging materials for its beverage brands, including LIFEWTR, bubbly and Aquafina, which recently announced sustainable packaging efforts.

Additionally, through the expansion of PepsiCo’s SodaStream business, an estimated 67 billion plastic bottles will be avoided through 2025, the company says in a news release. These targets advance PepsiCo’s sustainable packaging vision and reinforce its “Beyond the Bottle” strategy, which includes the mobile Hydration Platform and other offerings that deliver beverages without single-use plastic bottles.

“While our efforts are far from done, this is one more step in PepsiCo’s journey toward helping to build a world where plastics need never become waste,” says PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta. “Even as we work to accelerate business growth, we continue to make important progress toward a circular economy for packaging, a responsibility we take very seriously.”

PepsiCo’s sustainable plastics vision is rooted in three pillars: Reducing the amount of plastics used, boosting recycling rates and reinventing plastic packaging. 

“We’re intentionally setting ambitious goals to drive meaningful progress,” says Simon Lowden, president of PepsiCo Global Foods, who leads PepsiCo’s Plastic Agenda. “PepsiCo is already one of the world’s largest buyers of recycled plastic, and if there was more available, we’d buy it, and if there were more markets where we could use it, we would. We are committed and partnership is key.”

Cohda designs recycling identifying device

Cohda, United Kingdom, has designed a device that eliminates consumer confusion over what items can or can’t be recycled. As recycling guidelines continue to change and the material stream shifts to include different packaging materials, the Recycling Identifying Device (RID) was created to help consumers recycle properly.

The handheld device uses near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to scan materials to let the user know whether an item is recyclable or not. Software allows the RID to match the item with accepted items at the nearest material recovery facility (MRF).

The device is intended to be distributed by waste management companies or city councils to each household. Implementing the device will help keep recyclables out of landfills, with more effectively sorted materials going to processing sites, the company says.

RID doesn’t require software, a computer or a smartphone. When an update becomes available, a rewritable RFID card is attached to the household recycling bin. Consumers then touch the RID to the RFID card to transfer the update automatically. A product release date has not yet been announced.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals made from recycled electronics

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) conducted the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project to collect small electronic devices, including used mobile phones, from all over Japan to produce the Olympic and Paralympic medals.

Approximately 78,985 tons of used electronics were collected from 1,621 participating municipalities across 1,741 cities and towns in Japan and 6.21 million used mobile phones were collected by phone shops across Japan, resulting in the recovery of 32 kilograms (kg) of gold, 3,5000 kg of silver and 2,200 kg of bronze.

The small electronic devices donated by people across Japan will be classified and dismantled by contractors accredited in line with the government's Act on Promotion of Recycling of Small Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The medals will be produced after the gold, silver and bronze elements have been extracted by the smelting contractors.

Every single medal that will be awarded to the athletes during the Tokyo 2020 Games will be made from recycled metals.

Coca-Cola Foundation, KAB announce public space recycling bin grant recipients

Keep America Beautiful (KAB), Stamford, Connecticut, and The Coca-Cola Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2019 Coca-Cola Public Spaces Recycling Bin Grant Program in a combined effort to improve recycling collection in more public space locations throughout the country.

The 2019 program is distributing public space recycling bins to 31 organizations, including KAB-based affiliates, as well as government agencies, colleges and universities and Native American tribal locations in 19 states.

For the past 13 years, The Coca-Cola Foundation has supported the program, which has donated recycling bins to more than 1,000 communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Over the history of the program, more than 37,000 public space recycling bins have been awarded, providing opportunities for recycling on the go to more than 2 million people daily.

With bins placed at locations ranging from college campuses to fairs and festivals to downtown streets and playgrounds, KAB and Coca-Cola estimate public space recycling will be given "greater visibility" and access to an estimated 10.6 million individuals annually in these locations, according to a news release. Approximately 54 percent of the exposure will take place in special event locations with the remaining access being served through the placement of year-round permanent bins. The program is funded through a $350,000 grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation to KAB, which in turn awards recycling bins through a competitive, merit-based application process.

“This grant program has greatly expanded recycling opportunities in public spaces thanks to the significant commitment of The Coca-Cola Foundation to maximize public access to bins,” says Randy Hartmann, senior director of affiliate operations for KAB. “With over a third of all beverage containers consumed in the U.S. used on the go, we know the barriers to capture more containers in public spaces is relatively easy if we provide greater accessibility and convenience.”

Grant recipients were chosen by KAB based on their potential to collect the most cans and bottles and well other considerations, including providing access in environmentally sensitive areas, including waterways. A list of the 2019 Coca-Cola Public Space Recycling Bin Grant recipients is available here.

“Supporting community recycling programs and providing increased access to recycling is a priority for The Coca-Cola Foundation. Through our longstanding partnership with Keep America Beautiful on the Recycling Bin grant program, we can help communities improve access to recycling in public spaces, reduce litter and improve the environment,” says Helen Smith Price, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation.