Steven S Reinemund
Chairman of the Board and
Chief Executive Officer
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
Dear Mr. Reinemund,
We are writing
to you on behalf of the Grassroots Recycling Network (GRRN) to urge
PepsiCo take immediate voluntary steps to reduce packaging waste
from your used beverage containers. We ask that PepsiCo make a public
commitment to use 25 percent plastic recycled content and to achieve
an 80 percent recycling rate for all of your beverage containers
GRRN is a North
American network of waste reduction activists and professionals
dedicated to achieving sustainable production and consumption based
on the principle of Zero Waste.
emphasizes its commitment to environmental leadership, and its brand
value depends on excellence. Yet PepsiCo has no comprehensive recycling
strategy that includes quantitative goals for boosting recycled
content in its U.S. beverage containers or for enhanced rates of
beverage container recovery in the U.S.
main competitor has set a goal for using recycled content in plastic
bottles and participated in a process, the BEAR Multi-Stakeholder
Recovery Project (MSRP), that attempted to objectively analyze the
state of beverage container recovery and seek solutions. PepsiCo
has done nothing on recycled content - may even be backtracking
with a newly acquired brand - and spurned the MSRP process.
Plastic. Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi promised to use 25 percent
recycled plastic in 1990. Coke made a significant investment at
the time, but ultimately both companies broke the promise when pressure
faded. As a result of renewed consumer pressure, however, Coca-Cola's
CEO made a public commitment at the April 2001 shareholder meeting
to use 10 percent recycled content in all of its bottles by 2005.
We understand that Coke is already ahead of this schedule and is
currently using 10 percent recycled plastic in three-quarters of
their North American bottles.
PepsiCo appears to be headed backwards. After you acquired Gatorade
-- the primary user of recycled plastic in drink bottles for the
past 9 years --
PepsiCo told the bottle supplier to stop using recycled plastic,
saying it "brought no value" to the company, according
to a report published in Plastics Recycling Update. Although outside
pressure forced PepsiCo to backtrack temporarily, rumors are swirling
in the recycling industry that PepsiCo has told its supplier that
it will neither specify recycled plastic nor renew the contract.
Recovery. As you may know, U.S. recycling rates for both plastic
and aluminum have been declining for six years, to the point where
the recycling rate for beer and soft drink containers (plastic,
aluminum and glass) is a mere 41 percent, with the majority of recovery
coming from 10 deposit states. In fact, container recovery rates
are more than three times greater within the 10 deposit states than
in the 40 non-deposit states. Financial incentives are indisputably
the only proven method to increase recovery significantly. Yet PepsiCo
continues, through the National and State Soft Drink Associations,
to lobby aggressively against container deposit legislation, and
has put no effective alternative proposal forward.
its support for EPA's Solid Waste hierarchy. Soft drink containers
are indeed a relatively highly recycled consumer package; but this
feat has been accomplished largely by the 10 states that have the
beverage container deposit laws that you oppose, and by taxpayers
and local governments who pay the cost for disposal of your containers
in cities with curbside collection. These latter costs, which add
up to tens of millions of dollars annually, amount to an 'unfunded
mandate' paid by financially strapped local governments and by citizens
who may not even consume your product.
Even more significant
are the unnecessary environmental, health and energy costs associated
with producing aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles from
virgin resources rather than from recycled containers. For example,
as you probably know, it takes a fraction of the energy to produce
new aluminum cans from recycled cans than from newly mined and processed
bauxite ore. Each such can has an embodied energy content equivalent
to the gasoline that would fill that can one-third full. At present,
almost half (45%) of the 102 billion aluminum cans sold in the U.S.
each year are wasted - buried, burned or littered.
This is not
an environmentally sound or sustainable path.
to have seized the initiative on fronts such as 'New Age' and healthy
beverages that appeal to young people. We can think of little that
would do more to appeal to young people and give PepsiCo credibility
with this demographic group than an environmental initiative that
was sincere, effective, and powerful.
community hereby calls on PepsiCo to make a real commitment to establishing
a system that achieves an 80% collection rate (a rate that is already
being met or exceeded in most U.S. states with container deposit
systems), and to specify to all of your plastic bottle suppliers
a minimum of 25 percent recycled content (the level that has been
used in most Gatorade bottles).
If both of these
initiatives are undertaken together, existing industries can utilize
as feedstocks all collected plastic, glass and aluminum without
market disruption. The impact on employment, tax revenues and wealth
creation could be substantial and significant. And Pepsi could rightly
take credit for this monumental achievement.
Recycling Network initially focused attention on Coca-Cola because
they were the market leader. Today, Coca-Cola is making serious
efforts to address environmental concerns and engaged in a constructive
dialogue to resolve this issue.
no longer ride Coca-Cola's coat tails. Environmental activists,
including student and youth leaders, are prepared to refocus their
campaigns on PepsiCo's failure to address the appalling and needless
wasting of beverage containers. The ball is now in PepsiCo's court
to produce actions commensurate with your company's rhetoric of
environmental concern. America's youth -- PepsiCo's future consumers
-- demand no less.
A rapid and
strong commitment by PepsiCo to these pro-environmental policies
would have an enormous impact and demonstrate that the company has
the boldness and foresight to seize the baton of leadership and
carry it forward.