Pepsi-Cola Co. now plans to use 10 percent recycled content in its PET bottles by 2005, a significant step that comes after archrival Coca-Cola Co. announced similar plans last year.
The plan, announced quietly to bottlers and a few shareholders in letters dated Feb. 19 and Feb. 20, says that the company ``will be working towards a new goal of 10 percent recycled content'' in PET containers in Pepsi's system in the United States by 2005.
A Pepsi spokesman said he was not sure what technologies the company will use, and he declined to say how the company would get to 10 percent.
Environmental groups and shareholders that have been pressuring the company to use 25 percent recycled content welcomed the move, but said they wanted more details. The GrassRoots Recycling Network said that Pepsi committed to 25 percent recycled content in 1990 and then ``proceeded to blow that off.''
A Pepsi letter to a group of investment firms, which tout themselves as being socially responsible, said it would begin using recycled plastic in its bottles this year.
``We know that it is technically and economically feasible to produce a food-grade container made with 10 percent recycled content, so we believe achieving that rate is a reasonable action,'' according to a Feb. 19 letter Pepsi sent to Ken Scott, portfolio manager and social research analyst for Walden Asset Management in Boston.
A Feb. 20 letter from Gary Rodkin, Pepsi-Cola North America president and chief executive officer, to its bottlers said that the company has a goal of 10 percent recycled PET in bottles.
``We currently use recycled content in both aluminum and glass containers, so it makes sense that we explore the potential of using recycled content in our growing line of plastic bottles,'' Rodkin wrote.
Coke said recently that it is now using 10 percent recycled content in three of every four bottles in North America.
Pepsi spokesman Larry Jabbonsky said the company's ``commitment has been there all along'' to use recycled PET and that technological developments on several fronts, including collection and manufacturing, now make it possible.
Pepsi's new plan will not apply to containers for products outside the Pepsi bottling system, like Tropicana, Jabbonsky said.
Pepsi's Gatorade brand has been using recycled content for several years. A Jan. 29 GRRN letter to Pepsi said ``rumors are swirling in the recycling industry'' that Pepsi is no longer specifying recycled content in Gatorade bottles.
But a spokesman for Pepsi subsidiary Quaker Oats said that the company has not changed the level of recycled content in Gatorade bottles and has ``no plans at this time to change.'' Pepsi is based in Purchase, N.Y.