PepsiCo reaches consumers in more than 200 countries and has 18 product lines that generate more than $1 billion in retail sales each year. In 2008, the company had more than $43 billion in annual revenues while employing 198,000 people.

These numbers make it quite clear that PepsiCo has a major market impact. What it doesn’t want, however, is to have a major environmental impact. The company has implemented its organization-wide “Performance With Purpose” program to work toward this end.

“Through Performance With Purpose, we are committed to strong financial performance while doing something good in three core areas of sustainability,” says Tim Carey, director of sustainability and technology for PepsiCo in Chicago. “We are focused on environmental sustainability, human sustainability – nourishing our consumers through transformation of our product portfolio – and talent sustainability, which is to attract and retain the best people, and keep them healthy and safe at work and at home.”

PepsiCo first wanted to efficiently use resources in its facilities. In 2004, “we began meticulous record-keeping,” Carey says, “and in 2006, we publicly committed to improving our use of water by 20 percent, electricity by 20 percent and fuel by 25 percent, per unit of production by 2015 across our entire company.”

It began implementing technologies and programs throughout its operations to hit these targets. By 2008, at its Gatorade and Tropicana plants, it saw a combined 25 percent improvement in energy use and 13 percent improvement in its water use per unit of production.

“In most of the United States, it’s easier to implement capital programs and see a decent return with energy than it is with water,” Carey notes. “Regardless, we have dedicated engineers who go around PepsiCo to find ways we can change for the better.”

Watershed Moves

Even though it wasn’t able to immediately improve its water use efficiency as much as its efficient use of energy, PepsiCo still made huge gains at its Gatorade plant in Chicago. It used to lubricate its production lines with a steady stream of water.

Working with a supplier, JohnsonDiversey, however, PepsiCo was able to implement the use of a new lubricant, saving 75 million gallons of water each year across the entire system. To ensure its Gatorade bottles were clean, the company used to rinse them with water before filling.

It found, however, it could get the bottles just as clean or cleaner when using ionized air. It turned the water off to the rinsers, replace it with the new technology, and saved 150 million gallons of water each year.

PepsiCo also recently led the industry in the public recognition of water as a fundamental right. In its “support of the human right to water,” PepsiCo promises to ensure the safety of water where it does business, ensure the sufficiency of water resources in its communities, involve its communities in its plans to develop water resources, assure its operations don’t adversely impact physical accessibility of community members to water resources, and advocate that safe water be available and affordable to all community members.

“We at PepsiCo respect the human rights recognized by the countries in which we operate, and will not take any action that would undermine a state’s obligation to its citizens to protect and fulfill the human right to water,” it says, “and, absent of a country’s human right to water policy, we commit to operate within the principles of the human right to water policy as defined by the United Nations and the World Health Organization.”

‘Big Positives’

Through its focus on energy, PepsiCo is using more renewable fuel re­sources as well as reducing its overall energy consumption. Some of the changes at Gatorade to reduce energy use include:

  • Implementing higher-speed lines to fill bottles faster. Krones supplied PepsiCo with new lines that filled bottles at a rate of 1,200 bottles per minute vs. 800 bottles per minute.
  • Using new technology to recover heat when Gatorade is pasteurized.
  • Adding trim boilers to the process for smaller jobs, which require much less energy than using standard large boilers for all jobs.

PepsiCo also focused heavily on improving its lighting systems. “When you improve your lighting, it’s amazing how much energy you can save and how quickly it pays back,” Carey says. “Not only did our new lighting systems save a lot of energy, but they also improve visibility, which reduces risks and accidents. All of these are big positives.”

Other PepsiCo operations also demonstrated how it is focused on renewable resources. “We are definitely focused on vastly cutting our energy use,” Carey says. “However, for the energy that we do use, we want to be as renewable as possible, and we’re primarily doing that through solar energy and landfill gas.”

At its facilities in Tolleson, Ariz., and Fullerton, Calif., PepsiCo in­stalled solar panels that have been reaping major benefits. In Arizona, the company’s 500-kilowatt system, installed by SPG Solar, provides power to the distribution center on-site.

Carey explains the roof’s photovoltaic system produces more than 760,000 kilowatt hours of energy each year, which is equivalent to the amount needed to power about 50 households in the United States for an entire year. The use of this system reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released by about 491 metric tons each year, or 12,000 metric tons over 25 years.

At its Fullerton facility, the solar panels allow the plant to go “off the grid” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which means it can operate independent of external electricity when there is the highest demand for electricity.

“We are overproducing energy at the Fullerton facility at certain times of the day, so we are selling it back to the grid,” Carey says. “These systems make it easy to see how our operations are impacted when we use energy. We also have two facilities in the United States that run a portion of operations off of landfill gas. This is huge in reducing the amount of fossil-fuel-related carbon dioxide we emit.”

Green Miles

Not surprisingly, PepsiCo’s efficiency has spread to its transportation. “For every mile we travel, we want to be as efficient as possible,” Carey says.

PepsiCo partnered with the EPA’s SmartWay Transport program by having 100 percent of its transportation needs executed by SmartWay carriers and affiliates. EPA introduced this program in 2004 as a way to reduce fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants from the freight sector. SmartWay vehicles reduce fuel use in a number of ways, such as watching their speed, not idling at docks and using load-sharing programs. By using the SmartWay program, PepsiCo estimates it has reduced its use of diesel by 15 million gallons and eliminated 340 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions so far.

“Our transportation programs really embody sustainability because they show significant ROI by using less fuel per mile traveled, they reduce environmental impacts by cutting down on carbon emissions, and they reduce other air emissions per mile traveled,” Carey says. “SmartWay is just one example of these efforts. Another is our Tropicana Juice train, which has been around since the start of that brand. It is a great way to transport product because rail miles are three times more efficient than road miles.”

Carey notes PepsiCo’s sustainability programs are numerous because they are a key part in how the company does business now. Not only is it focused on resource conservation, but the company also wants to establish environmental best practices, use advanced technology and innovate its products to minimize the potential environmental impacts of its business.

“This is something everyone at the company is focused on,” he says. “PepsiCo has an Environmental Sustainability Leadership Team that spans the company and is supported by technical experts in an Environmental Council. We also have sustainability teams at our manufacturing facilities and employee volunteer green teams that are working together to constantly find areas where we can improve and reduce our overall footprint.”