PepsiCo Europe to use 100% ‘recycled or renewable’ plastic in all packets by 2030

PepsiCo Europe has announced that by 2030, it plans to eliminate virgin fossil-based plastic in all its crisp and chip bags.

This ambition will apply to brands including Walkers, Doritos, and Lay’s and will be delivered by using 100% recycled or renewable plastic in its packets.

Consumer trials of the packaging will begin in European markets in 2022, starting with renewable plastic in a Lay’s range in France in the first half of the year.

Later in the year, a range from the Walkers brand in the UK will trial recycled content.

The recycled content in the packs will be derived from previously used plastic and the renewable content will come from by-products of plants such as used cooking oil or waste from paper pulp.

Flexible packaging recycling should be the norm across Europe. We see a future where our bags will be free of virgin fossil-based plastic.

PepsiCo estimates it may achieve up to 40% greenhouse gas emissions reduction per tonne of packaging material by switching to virgin fossil-free material.

Silviu Popovici, Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo Europe commented: “Flexible packaging recycling should be the norm across Europe. We see a future where our bags will be free of virgin fossil-based plastic.

“They will be part of a thriving circular economy where flexible packaging is valued and can be recycled as a new packet.

“We’re investing with our partners to build technological capacity to do that. We now need an appropriate regulatory landscape in place so that packaging never becomes waste.”

Flexible plastic

PepsiCo uses flexible plastic for its snack packaging – the soft wrapping used to make its crisp bags. PepsiCo says that change is needed to reduce the amount of virgin fossil-based plastic that is used and to drive circularity in flexible packaging.

PepsiCo Europe will focus its work on three strategic pillars: the right design; the right infrastructure and the right new life for flexible packaging.

Beyond the switch to renewable and recycled content, PepsiCo has developed its “Making Bags Better” programme, that will focus on a series of investments and innovations so more flexible plastics will be recycled and reused in Europe.

The new bag designs contain greater proportions of recyclable plastics like Polypropylene, commonly referred to as ‘mono-materials’.

These meet the design for recycling guidelines developed by the Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) which have been agreed by a range of stakeholders active in the flexible packaging value chain.

PepsiCo has committed to a 50% reduction in virgin plastic per serving by 2030. It says progress is being made towards this goal, including in markets such as the UK where on some parts of the range, PepsiCo has reduced its multipack outer by up to 30% using innovative technology in its manufacturing facilities.

‘Bag-to-bag circularity’

PepsiCo says it has also collaborated on and financing the development of effective waste collection systems in Europe and investing in schemes such as the Flexible Plastics Fund in the UK and REFLEX in Poland.

As part of this approach PepsiCo Europe says it is advocating to set ‘ambitious recycling targets’ for flexible packaging, including accelerating the ban on landfill and to swiftly adopt EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) fees that drive collection, sorting and actual recycling of flexible film.

PepsiCo is investing in technology that it says wil further scale and improve sorting and recycling, trialling smart packaging on several brands in 2022 in Germany and France as part of the Holy Grail 2.0 Digital Watermarks initiative.

PepsiCo is working with partners in the recycling industry such as Borealis and TOMRA to progress advanced recycling technologies for flexible packaging.

Through collaboration and innovation, we can progress to a viable circular economy for our food packaging in Europe

Alongside the company’s planned trials of recycled plastic this year, the company is also continuing to explore new life possibilities for its snack bags.

While PepsiCo says its goal is ‘bag-to-bag circularity’ which is suitable for food packaging, it says that collection, advanced sortation, and recycling of flexible films to produce valuable and durable products is an ‘important first step’ towards a circular future for flexible packaging.

PepsiCo is also exploring the conversion of packets into plastic pellets to be remade into items such as floor posts and as parts within the automotive industry.

“Through collaboration and innovation, we can progress to a viable circular economy for our food packaging in Europe,” said Archana Jagannathan, Senior Director, Sustainable Packaging, PepsiCo Europe.

“Today, the supply of recycled and renewable materials for flexibles is limited.  The regulatory environment is very dynamic and we need more clarity on policy and recognised technologies.

“If a policy and waste infrastructure, similar to beverage bottle packaging accelerates for flexibles, we will speed up our plans and go even faster to meet our commitments.”

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