Pepsi's Green Cups Square Off With Coca-Cola's PlantBottles

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 23, 2011 12:00 PM

PepsiCo has fired another green shot over the bow in the ongoing cola wars with competitor Coca-Cola. The company is releasing five varieties of recyclable and compostable cups in the US, following up on its March announcement of the world's first plant-based bottle.

Coca-Cola, meanwhile, is promoting its PlantBottle eco-friendly packaging, while its recent introduction of recyclable display racks.

PepsiCo's new line of eco-friendly, petroleum-free packaging is designed for use by the food service industry. Restaurants, stadia, theme parks and colleges can choose from these eco-friendly product options, working in sync with local recycling and composting facilities to create a stronger eco-system of renewable resources.

Treehugger commented on the PepsiCo announcement,

While Coca Cola has been pushing its PlantBottle, made from 30% plant materials, it said it would be several years before that level would reach 100%. Pepsi, however, will test the 100% plant-based (and recyclable) bottles in 2012. "We've cracked the code," said Rocco Papalia, senior vice president of advanced research at PepsiCo. Eventually, potato scraps, orange peels, oat hulls and other leftovers from Pepsi's food business will also be used in the bottles, which are said to look and feel just like the regular plastic bottles we're used to.

AP also noted that PepsiCo

"plans to test the product in 2012 in a few hundred thousand bottles. Once the company is sure it can successfully produce the bottle at that scale, it will begin converting all its products over. That could mean a switch of billions of bottles sold each year. Of Pepsi's 19 biggest brands, those that generate more than $1 billion in revenue, 11 are beverage brands that use PET.

Scientists said the technology is important innovation in packaging. 'This is the beginning of the end of petroleum-based plastics," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council and director of its waste management project. "When you have a company of this size making a commitment to a plant-based plastic, the market is going to respond.'

Coca-Cola said it welcomed other advances in packaging, but noted that it has scaled up use of its own plant-based bottle since introducing it in 2009. It also says it has demonstrated a 100 percent plant bottle in the lab and is still working to ensure it is commercially viable."

PepsiCo says it developed the new green cups in response to meet a growing demand for greener packaging, especially from college and university students. 

“The new cups are an advancement in technology, but also in the way we communicate,” says Margery Schelling, CMO of PepsiCo Foodservice. “Customers increasingly are asking for environmental products that match changing needs, expectations and lifestyles. We want consumers to enjoy their favorite fountain beverages and feel good about the environmental impact of their purchases.”

94% of consumers are concerned about the environmental effects of beverage packaging according to a 2010 study cited by PepsiCo, while 60% percent of Millennials and Gen-Xers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products according to a Mintel Beverage Packaging Trends study. 

The containers also encourage consumers to visit, a for-profit (and growing) resource for local recycling information. 

"Earth911 is pleased to see PepsiCo take a leadership role in providing people with accessible and actionable recycling information," says Earth911 president Corey Lambrecht. "It's not enough to tell people to simply recycle — you have to show them how and where."

PepsiCo’s environmental initiatives include developing a fully recyclable bottle from bio-based raw materials, Naked Juice’s reNEWabottle made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, and Aquafina’s Eco-Fina bottle,  the lightest of its size among all US bottled water brands, according to the company.

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