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PepsiCo Could Be 'Fossil Fuel Free' by 2023

<p>The company's 'Path to Zero' program delivers significant cuts in its water and power consumption; also included in the project are shifts to renewable, recyclable or biodegradable packaging.</p>

PepsiCo has unveiled significant savings in water consumption, energy use and waste sent to landfill as it continues to make progress towards its goal of becoming one of the world's most sustainable businesses.

On Friday, around two years after it launched its high-profile Path to Zero program, PepsiCo published an update on its progress towards a range of ambitious environmental targets, including commitments to unplug factories from the water mains, eliminate sending waste to landfill within 10 years, and become a fossil fuel free operation by 2023.

The company also plans to make all its product packaging renewable, recyclable or bio-degradable, a process it started last year with Walkers crisps packets.

In his foreword to the report, company president Richard Evans confirmed that since 2008, the company has reduced total energy consumption by 7.3 percent, landfill waste by 88 percent and water use by 14.6 percent.

He added that even though the business had grown by more than 15 percent in the past two years, its overall carbon footprint shrunk by 3.7 percent.

Evans also identified agriculture as an area the company plans to target, pledging to work with farmers to reduce the carbon and water impacts of their crops by 50 percent in five years and arguing that the company has a responsibility to persuade suppliers and other businesses of the benefits of stripping carbon out of the economy.

"This approach is not simply altruism. I am confident of the business case," he wrote. "Building sustainability and health into our corporate DNA creates longer-term strategic advantage. Sustainable businesses can cut costs, drive innovation, reduce risk, and motivate employees. It can help our retail customers and increase consumer loyalty."

Evans also highlighted the company's lobbying of policymakers to ensure environmentally beneficial activities were simple and cheap enough for companies of any size to implement, a theme he emphasised in a speech to the Aldersgate Group on Thursday night.

"We need to simplify the policy framework," he told attendees, including energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne. "We have CCL, CCAs, CRC, EU ETS and now the CPS too. It is too complicated. SMEs are a massive part of our economy and they need an approach they can understand and take advantage of."

He offered the example of PepsiCo's development of a biomass-combined heat and power boiler that ran on oat husks to power its Quaker factory in Cupar, explaining how the project had been mothballed as bosses deemed it financially unviable under current UK policy.

"It was a hugely frustrating experience," Evans said, before urging Huhne to encourage investment in off-site renewable energy by allowing businesses to count the carbon benefit under the Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme.

"From a purely business perspective, there is no difference whether I buy electricity for my business from a power station run on coal or a wind farm. There is no incentive to choose renewables," Evans said. "As well as delivering on a robust carbon price, there is one action that government can take quickly, cheaply and easily to help stimulate the investment in the green economy that we need: allowing businesses to fully benefit from investing in additional off-site renewable energy."

This article originally appeared on BusinessGreen, and is reprinted with permission.

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