PepsiCo and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) today announced a five-year partnership called Recycle for Nature, aimed at inspiring people to protect drinking water sources in the US through recycling. The initiative's goal is to save and restore one billion gallons of water over five years in rivers that supply water to more than 35 million people across nine states - including the Colorado River, Denver's Front Range Forests, Arizona's Verde River, Arkansas' Kings River and North Carolina's Cape Fear River.
The partnership will expand the availability of recycling bins in the country, beginning at gas stations and convenience stores. And for every 0.25 percent point increase in the national recycling rate (as defined and tracked by the American Beverage Association), PepsiCo says it will contribute $31,250 in funding for water protection — up to $250,000 per year. The beverage giant will also donate additional funding to protect clean drinking water based on its recycling program points donation program — for every point donated by program participants, PepsiCo will contribute $.01, up to an additional $50,000 per year.
Pepsi says it will also support awareness and habitat improvement initiatives in TNC's Green Swamp Preserve in North Carolina, which is designed to protect the rare Venus fly trap and other carnivorous plants.
The US beverage container recycling rate is currently at 42 percent, according to the American Beverage Association. A PepsiCo national survey revealed that 81 percent of Americans say they would recycle beverage containers at a retail location if proper bins were available.
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"Most consumers want to recycle when they're away from home – there just aren't enough convenient places to do it," said Al Carey, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages. "This is a huge opportunity that has been largely unaddressed until now. The easier we can make it to recycle, the more likely people are to recycle; and by giving consumers the added incentive of helping protect our watersheds, we can make an impact."
The Recycle for Nature program will begin with a pilot program that PepsiCo has been running in Tulsa, Okla. since 2012, in collaboration with Kum & Go convenience stores and gas stations. The goal is to drive a tenfold increase in the number of recycling bins in the area.
"As our population and economies grow, already-stressed water sources will face unprecedented pressure," said Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. "Protecting the rivers that provide clean, reliable water for people and nature is one of the smartest investments that forward-thinking companies can make."
The project is part of PepsiCo's collaboration with Walmart to increase recycling and investment in the Closed Loop Fund that was launched in April this year. The Fund aims to invest $100 million in recycling infrastructure projects and spur private and public funding for transforming the recycling system in the US. Last month, public interest organizations called on Walmart and the other companies behind the Fund to instead support proven policies to boost recycling, such as extended producer responsibility (EPR) which holds consumer goods companies financially responsible for the collection of their packaging post-use rather than having taxpayers and local governments pay for it.