Oceana Says Pepsi’s Pledge to Increase Reusable Packaging is Promising But More Specifics Needed

Oceana calls on company – and bottlers – to detail how new plan will reduce single-use plastic

WASHINGTON, Dec. 09, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Earlier this week, beverage giant PepsiCo announced plans to double the percentage of beverage servings sold through reusable models from 10% to 20% by 2030. The commitment states this increase in beverage servings will come from more SodaStream sales; existing refillable bottling operations in Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Colombia, Germany, and the Philippines; its fountain drinks business with reusable cups; and sales of concentrates and powders. This announcement follows an agreement made with As You Sow to create a new reusable target for PepsiCo and a more ambitious pledge by The Coca-Cola Company to reach 25% reusable packaging by 2030.

In response to PepsiCo’s announcement, Oceana issued the following statement from Senior Vice President Matt Littlejohn:

“Having Pepsi increase its use of reusable and refillable packaging would be good news for the oceans. Increasing the share of refillable bottles sold means less plastic pollution. However, the company’s pledge currently lacks the specifics needed to be certain that it will result in the increased sale of refillable bottles and the reduction of single-use plastic.

PepsiCo needs to detail its planned increase for reusable packaging for each business, particularly in countries where the company and its bottlers already sell refillable bottles. The company also needs to quantify how the sale of additional SodaStream machines, powders, and concentrates reduces the company's existing single-use plastic footprint. If the additional powders and concentrates sold are packaged in plastic sachets or other types of plastic that are difficult to recycle, it could mean replacing one plastic pollution problem with another.

Unfortunately, there is reason to be skeptical. PepsiCo is — according to its own data — increasing its use of plastic and is not on track to meet its plastic reduction promises. According to the “Global Commitment 2022 Progress Report" released last month by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in 2021, PepsiCo used 5.5 billion pounds of plastic packaging. This was 331 million pounds more plastic packaging than the company used the previous year. PepsiCo also used 5% more virgin plastic packaging in 2021 compared to 2020, despite its goal to reduce virgin plastic per serving by 50% by 2030. Additionally, the Break Free From Plastic Brand Audit recently listed PepsiCo as the second leading corporate polluter “fueling the plastic crisis.”

PepsiCo does not yet report to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation — as a Global Commitment Signatory — what percentage of their packaging is reusable. Going forward, PepsiCo should publicly report on its progress toward reaching its reusable goal.

Plastic is devastating the world’s seas. Studies have estimated that individuals from 55% of seabird species, 70% of marine mammal species, and 100% of sea turtle species have ingested or become entangled in plastic.

Increasing refillable and reusable bottles in place of single-use plastic is an important way to reduce PET bottle marine plastic pollution and combat the plastic crisis overwhelming our seas. A report by Oceana found that increasing the market share of refillable bottles by 10% in all coastal countries in place of single-use throwaway PET bottles could keep as many as 7.6 billion PET bottles per year out of the ocean. It is critical that Pepsi and other major beverage companies increase their use of refillable and reusable containers.”

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control over one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.

Contact: Anna Baxter, abaxter@oceana.org