PepsiCo is trialing a recyclable alternative to plastic rings on its flagship Pepsi brand in Sacramento, California: with rings made from molded pulp.
Over the next four weeks, both molded pulp rings and secondary paperboard packaging are being used on 7.5oz mini can six-packs of Pepsi and Sierra Mist. Both options are recyclable; and the molded pulp rings are also compostable and biodegradable in a commercial system.
Under trial: functionality and sustainability
PepsiCo has committed to making 100% of its packaging recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable, and to reduce 35% of virgin plastic in beverage packaging by 2025.
“This test is just one of many that will ultimately help us scale solutions to achieve these goals,” Emily Silver, VP of innovation and marketing capabilities, PepsiCo Beverages North America, told this publication.
“In Sacramento, we will be testing for benefits and drawbacks of each option, including functionality; it’s important that the functionality of the options are at parity with our current plastic 6-pack rings.
“The insights we gain from this market test will be used to inform our long-term strategy.”
So far, preliminary tests show that the new options meet durability standards and environmental performance requirements. At this stage, PepsiCo says that it is these points that are under consideration, rather than cost.
“What’s most important to us is identifying and testing potential solutions that we can ultimately scale across our portfolio,” said Silver. “Once we identify a solution – or suite of solutions – cost will be one of many factors that we will consider.”
Both the cardboard packs and molded pulp rings have come from outside suppliers: the paperboard has been provided by an existing supplier while the molded pulp supplier was found when PepsiCo was researching new technologies.
“As we see with many new technologies and materials, there are always learning opportunities,” said Silver. “Over the past year, we’ve worked collaboratively with our suppliers to ensure the two solutions that we’re testing meet the needs of our consumers and customers while also addressing our functionality and sustainability requirements.”