PepsiCo Foods VP of Sustainability: 'Consumers want to be part of the solution'

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: GettyImages /  Hiroshi Watanabe
Photo Credit: GettyImages / Hiroshi Watanabe

Related tags Pepsico Sustainability Frito-lay

PepsiCo's $18bn Frito-Lay food division is making strong strides towards its "bold and important" sustainable packaging goals to make every bag across its snack portfolio recyclable, compostable, biodegradable or reusable by 2025, shares PepsiCo Foods North America VP of sustainability David Allen.

"We’re a consumer packaged goods company, so packaging is inherent in what we do,"​ Allen told FoodNavigator-USA.

For example, last month, PepsiCo's Frito-Lay North America division introduced industrially-compostable packaging for its Off The Eaten Path better-for-you snack brand, produced with approximately 60% less GHG emissions than traditional snack packaging.

In order to compost the bag, consumers must send in or locate a drop-off location via the TerraCycle Program.

"Off The Eaten Path is an important step in our sustainable packaging journey. Our plan is to learn from this launch and use those learnings to inform our expansion strategy and timing against those key goals,"​ said Allen.

Beyond just Frito-Lay, 87% of PepsiCo's packaging is now recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable with the company on track to meet its goal of designing 100% of its packaging to meet the same sustainability criteria by 2025, according to PepsiCo's 2020 sustainability report

Across the entire company, PepsiCo also has increased the amount of recycled content in its plastic packaging and reducing the amount of virgin plastic content by 50% across its food and beverage portfolio by 2030.

Knowing that achieving its sustainability goals takes collaboration across industries and that the company must invest in consumer education, PepsiCo has partnered with The Recycling Partnership, Circulate Capital Ocean Fund, and Communities for Recycling to provide consumers in the US with localized recycling information.

"Not surprisingly, consumers are very much aware of sustainability efforts, goals, and challenges. They want to be part of the solution, but they also want those actions to be clear, simple, and engaging,"​ said Allen.

According to the 2021 Sustainable Market Share Index​, sustainably-sourced products accounted for 16.1% of market share in 2019, up from 13.7% four years prior. 

Sustainable ingredients

Another key pillar to Frito-Lay's sustainability goals is continuing to improve and diversify the sourcing of the key ingredients in its snacking portfolio.

"I'm excited about the partnerships that we have with our agricultural communities as it relates to sustainability,"​ said Allen.

"In practical terms, 100% of the potatoes and corn that we use to make Frito-Lay products in North America are sustainably sourced,"​ said Allen, adding that the company is also prioritizing the sourcing of other sustainable plant-based ingredients such as chickpeas, black beans, and whole grains for future product development. 

Allen added that the company's sustainability efforts are not limited to its packaging and ingredient sourcing, but that PepsiCo has made tremendous progress in several other areas of its value chain, including water and energy use at its manufacturing facilities and decarbonizing its massive fleet of delivery vehicles. 

Read the company's full sustainability progress report HERE​. 

"We’re a company that has a large footprint, we recognize the responsibility, and the opportunity we have to make a positive impact overall,"​ added Allen.

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