Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. increased use of post-consumer recycled plastic content significantly in 2021, according to the company's latest corporate responsibility report.
The beverage company's plastic packaging portfolio included 11 percent post-consumer content for the year, up from just 2 percent for 2020 and less than 1 percent in 2019.
The increased use of recycled plastic in the company's bottles meant that Keurig Dr Pepper displaced the use of approximately 57 million pounds of virgin plastic.
"We made significant progress in reducing our virgin plastic use by incorporating more recycled plastic, redesigning packaging and exploring alternative materials, even while navigating unprecedented supply chain challenges for critical inputs during a time of high consumer demand for our products," the company said in the report.
Paperboard and cardboard represented Keurig Dr Pepper's largest packaging type in 2021 with 32 percent of the company's total packaging mix. PET bottles came in second at 27 percent, followed by aluminum and steel at 14 percent, non-refillable glass bottles at 10 percent, flexible packaging at 4 percent and refillable glass bottles at 2 percent. The remaining 8 percent was classified as "other" material.
A total of 92 percent of the company's packaging was considered recyclable or compostable in 2021, up from 90 percent in 2020 and 87 percent in 2019. Keurig Dr Pepper seeks to have 100 percent compostable or recyclable packaging by 2025.
For plastic bottles, the number increased by more than fivefold year over year from 2020 to 2021. The number was 0.4 percent in 2019.
Another plastic-related 2025 goal involves achieving a 20 percent virgin resin reduction across the packaging portfolio. Keurig Dr Pepper achieved a 6 percent reduction in 2021, up from 1 percent in 2020.
PepsiCo Inc., meanwhile, recently published the company's first environmental, social and governance (ESG) summary since the company launched PepsiCo Positive.
Pep+ is described as "a strategic end-to-end business transformation with sustainability and human capital at the center of how the company will create growth and value," the company said.
The Purchase, N.Y.-based company reported a 5 percent reduction in the use of virgin plastic from nonrenewable sources per serving in the company's global beverage and convenient foods business in 2021 compared to the baseline year of 2020. The company's ultimate goal at this point is to reduce such virgin plastic use by 50 percent by 2030.
While the company cut back on virgin plastic use per serving in 2021, overall business growth actually pushed PepsiCo's virgin plastic use higher for the year.
The company actually used 5 percent more virgin plastic derived from non-renewable sources in 2021 compared to 2020 despite creating a goal to decrease such use by 20 percent over the next decade, PepsiCo reported.
PepsiCo's new ESG report comes as the company also recently announced funding of a second green bond that will help fund environmental efforts within the company.
Part of proceeds raised through this latest $1.25 billion green bond will be earmarked for virgin plastic reduction efforts.
"One of PepsiCo's key pep+ goals is to strive to use 50 percent recycled plastic content in its packaging by 2030. The company is already one of the largest users of food-grade rPET [recycled PET] in the world, and the new Green Bond will enable PepsiCo to continue its work to increase the use of more sustainable product packaging including recycled, compostable and reusable materials," the company said in a statement.
Money from the bond also will be spent on efforts to strengthen recycling infrastructure and improve recycling rates in key markets, PepsiCo said.
Proceeds from an earlier $1 billion green bond issued in 2019 have been spent on sustainable plastics and packaging, decarbonization and water sustainability efforts.