Gigaton Awards Profile: PepsiCo

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Just Another Wretch

[Editor's note: This profile is part of an ongoing series spotlighting some of the nominees for the Gigaton Awards, a two-year old recognition program from the Carbon War Room that honors companies for their efforts in measuring, reporting, managing and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The winner will be announced next month during the U.N climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa.]

The iconic Pepsi-Cola beverage was invented in the late 1890s, more than a century before PepsiCo caught the attention of the Carbon War Room for its efforts to size up and understand the carbon footprint of its operations and products.

Pepsi-Cola merged with Frito-Lay in 1965 to become PepsiCo, a powerhouse company now split into four divisions: PepsiCo Americas Beverages, PepsiCo Americas Foods, PepsiCo Europe and PepsiCo Asia, Middle East and Africa. Among its globally recognized brands are Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Tropicana and Quaker.

We've seen the company take many steps over the years to trim the environmental impacts of its products, including the development of the world's first 100 percent plant-based PET bottle made from renewable sources that will dramatically reduce its carbon footprint. PepsiCo has also lightweighted bottles to reduce packaging waste, reduced the amount of waste it sends to landfills and invested heavily in water efficiency and watershed research and restoration. PepsiCo became one of the first major companies to publicly recognize water as a human right, and for the last two years running, PepsiCo's operations in India have achieved a "positive water balance," where the company has given back to communities more water than it used.

The company, too, has also long been a proponent of green power, becoming the nation's largest buyer the first year it began purchasing renewable energy certificates. Since then, we've seen PepsiCo transition steadily toward on-site power generation as a means of both reducing its exposure to energy price volatility and reducing its carbon footprint.

Here are the vital statistics for PepsiCo, which was nominated for a Gigaton Award in the Consumer Staples Category:

Company Name: PepsiCo
Headquarters: Purchase, N.Y.
Net Revenue: $57.8 billion (2010)
CEO: Indra K. Nooyi
Sustainability Home Page: http://www.pepsico.com/Purpose/Overview.html
First Sustainability Report Published: 2006

Greenhouse Gas Commitments:
Reduce electricity and fuel-use intensity (both per unit of product) by 20 percent and 25 percent, respectively, by 2015. PepsiCo's U.K. business unit aims for fossil fuel-free energy by 2023.

Other Sustainability Commitments:
Improve water-use efficiency per unit of production by 20 percent by 2015 (the company has nearly met this goal five years early). Use at least 10 percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) in primary soft drink containers in the U.S., and expand use worldwide.

Notable achievements:
'Near Net Zero' Building: PepsiCo recently announced that its Frito-Lay plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, is now "near net zero," in terms of the amount of resources needed to run the facility. A range of technologies, such as a biomass boiler and the use of passive lighting, have helped the company halve its greenhouse gas emissions, and on-site renewable energy supplies two-thirds of the electricity used at the plant. The Casa Grande site was the first to receive LEED Existing Building (EB) Gold Certification in 2009.

Exploiting Efficiency: High-efficiency oven burners and a biomass boiler at Frito-Lay's Topeka, Kansas, plant have slashed the facility's natural gas use by 40 percent (per pound of production) since 1999. More recently, installing high-efficiency heat exchangers at facilities in India, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. in 2010 is having a positive impact on heat transfer and recapturing waste heat from the chip frying process.

Beverage Coolers and Refrigeration: In a bid to cut its refrigeration carbon footprint, PepsiCo began testing more environmentally friendly models years ago, and to date has deployed more than 61,000 beverage coolers and vending machines that are more energy efficient and avoid the use of HFC gases, which have a high global warming potential and harm the ozone layer.

On the Horizon:

Greener Fertilizers: PepsiCo conducted a carbon footprint of Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice, where the company learned that agriculture was responsible for 40 percent of the product's impact. As a result, PepsiCo kicked off a three-year pilot program in 2010 to test low-carbon fertilizers in Florida. More than 20 other PepsiCo products are also undergoing carbon footprint evaluations.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Just Another Wretch.