Though bottles made from plastic are 100 percent recyclable and account for a relatively tiny amount of society's oil consumption, PBG has spent millions of dollars to reduce the amount of plastic it uses. "With our huge production volume, every gram of plastic taken out of a bottle translates to hefty savings," says Samylenko. For example, in 2005 a half-liter Aquafina bottle weighed in at 24 grams. Today, a growing number of PBG plants can manufacture and fill bottles weighing as little as 14.8 grams. Twenty-ounce Aquafina bottles weigh 20.6 grams, down from 24 grams in 2005. The weight of 1.5-liter bottles used for Aquafi na and other beverages has dropped from 54 to 47 grams, and the caps are 1.6 grams lighter. PBG is also beginning to use bottles with 20 percent less plastic for non-carbonated brands such as Lipton Iced Tea, Tropicana juice drinks, Aquafina Alive and Aquafina FlavorSplash.The company notes that over the past three years, it has saved 74 million pounds of plastic on Aquafina bottles alone. The company also featured self-manufacturing as a way to generate "key environmental efficiencies" -- basically saving the cost of shipping empty bottles from a custom blow molder. In 2007, it noted, the company "announced its biggest self-manufacturing initiative yet, a plan to equip its largest plant, in Toronto, with four bottle blowing production lines by the end of 2008." Pepsi Bottling Group claims its bottle blowing equipment "is more efficient than the older equipment that many third-party bottle manufacturers still use." I have a feeling that some custom blow molders might dispute that claim... or at least argue that they could have modernized themselves, if Pepsi had not decided to pursue the self-manufacturing strategy. Anyway, it's interesting to see how Pepsi Bottling is saving plastic (or, perhaps from a more skeptical perspective, spinning some of their business decisions as being related to corporate responsibility).
Pepsi on sustainability
Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. released a corporate responsiblity report this week, and plastics play a pretty major role in the story. The company highlights its efforts to make bottles lighter, and also to bring bottle manufacturing in-house. (Click here to download the full report, in PDF format). The report includes a story quoting Walter Samylenko, director of packaging engineering, about the company's efforts to use less plastics through lightweighting.
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