Waste Not
PepsiCo Steps Up to Amp Up Recycling in the U.S.

More than half of the United States isn’t recycling, and PepsiCo is setting out to help change that with a brand new ad. Designed to motivate people to recycle, the ad depicts a series of humorous examples of people doing activities halfway — like dog-grooming, running a race and mowing the lawn — as a way to remind them to take the extra step to recycle.

Since 2010, PepsiCo Recycling has collected more than 125 million bottles and cans, keeping them out of landfills and putting the materials back into its own packaging stream.

We recently caught up with Meagan Smith, PepsiCo Recycling Program Director, to glean insight into the beverage company’s plans to accelerate recycling in the U.S. and beyond.

What is PepsiCo's recycling program? What are the specific goals?

PepsiCo Recycling’s mission is to increase beverage recycling by motivating people to recycle more. The reality is that more than half of the U.S. isn’t recycling their bottles and cans, which means they end up littering our waterways, parks or going into a landfill where they don’t belong. Research shows that people want to recycle, but the means are not always available. PepsiCo Recycling provides recycling bins in communities and at events to help keep more recyclables out of landfills and make recycling easier and more convenient for people when they’re away from home.

What is PepsiCo's partnership with The Nature Conservancy and what has it achieved so far?

PepsiCo partnered with the Nature Conservancy in 2014 to launch Recycle for Nature, a five-year partnership aimed at protecting the country’s drinking water sources through recycling. Now in its third year, Recycle for Nature provides consumers the chance to directly drive drinking water conservation efforts to save and restore up to 1 billion gallons of water by simply recycling beverage containers more often.

Since 2014, PepsiCo has funded conservation projects in watersheds which supply drinking water to more than 35 million people. This includes the Colorado River; Colorado’s Front Range Forest; Verde River in Arizona; Kings River in Arkansas and Missouri; Blue River in Oklahoma; North Carolina’s Cape Fear River; and Green Swamp Preserve in North Carolina.

Why the connection between recycling and water conservation?

Our research shows that 63 percent of people who recycle do so to improve the environment, and 46 percent specifically recycle to preserve natural water resources. Recycle for Nature provides consumers the chance to directly drive drinking water conservation efforts by recycling more often.

What is PepsiCo doing to reduce waste internally?

As our business continues to grow and thrive, we remain focused on innovating our packaging to make it increasingly sustainable, minimizing our impact on the environment. In 2014, we removed more than 89 million pounds of packaging materials from the market and used more than 130 million pounds of food-grade rPET in our packaging. PepsiCo is committed to reducing our overall impact on the environment and is the only major beverage company consistently using rPET in its containers in the U.S. The PepsiCo Recycling program directly supports the PepsiCo closed loop packaging system – when people recycle with PepsiCo, their bottles and cans are put back into our system and back on the shelf within 60 days.

How is PepsiCo measuring success with this initiative?

We measure success by the number of containers recycled. Since 2010, PepsiCo Recycling has collected more than 125.7 million bottles and cans, keeping them out of landfills and putting the materials back into its own packaging stream. We also track the number of consumers we’re able to engage on recycling.

Anything else you'd like to add?

PepsiCo Recycling launched on Earth Day 2010 to bring innovative recycling solutions to colleges and universities, K-12 schools and on-the-go retail locations across the U.S. with the goal of increasing the national beverage container recycling rate. We know that partnership is power, and we’ve formed strategic partnerships in communities to increase the availability of recycling so that it’s easier for people to find recycling options while they’re away from home.

We believe that bigger change starts with one bottle, with one person, with one action – it’s really the simple acts that can have a big impact.

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