Interview of the Week: Scott Finlow, CMO of PepsiCo Foodservice

For Earth Week, PepsiCo launched a new initiative as part of their “Beyond the Bottle” campaign to reduce single-use plastic bottle consumption.  We caught up with Scott Finlow, the Chief Marketing Officer of PepsiCo Food Service to ask him more about the company’s efforts to change how they deliver drinking water products.

ODP:  The new hydration platform Pepsi is rolling out now will revolutionize the way consumers get flavored and carbonated bottled water today.  But it is a very different system than the one we have now.  How will you get to scale in the U.S. and globally?  How long will it take?

SF:  We are very excited about the launch of this new, mobile-enabled hydration platform and what it means for the future of the industry. Starting this summer, we’ll be introducing the new hydration platform to select workplaces and college and university campuses, where there is a high demand for plastic-waste reduction. From there, we’ll be focusing on working with our partners for rolling out and delivering a reliable user experience.

ODP:  Is this the beginning of the end of single-use plastic water bottles?  How much plastic does Pepsi expect to reduce from its bottled water and soda business and by when?

SF:  We are committed to providing consumers with more choices using more sustainable methods, and as part of that we are deeply committed to reducing our waste in an effort to create a more circular economy. This is why we have committed to a goal of making 100% of our packaging recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.

ODP:  There have been complaints that bottled water companies are taxing the local water supplies of their bottling facilities by “re-selling” water.  How does this new system benefit local water supplies?

SF:  We believe that water is a fundamental human right, indispensable to every community around the world. With water scarcity impacting nearly 3 billion people worldwide today, including people in communities where we operate, it is critical for PepsiCo and companies like us to deploy our expertise and resources to address this issue. As part of our Performance with Purpose 2025 agenda, we have set the following goals around water:

  • Ensure access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) to 100 percent of manufacturing employees by 2025
  • Extend safe water access to a total of 25 million people by 2025 from our 2006 baseline
  • Initiate and support collaborative efforts with other stakeholders to address water risk and mitigate water insecurity
  • Advocate for strong water governance in communities and watersheds where we operate, promoting water solutions that meet local water needs
  • Improve water-use efficiency in high water-risk areas of direct agricultural supply chain by 15 percent by 2025
  • Achieve a 25 percent improvement in water-use efficiency in direct operations by 2025, with a focus on manufacturing operations in high water-risk areas
  • Replenish 100 percent of the water we consume in manufacturing operations located in high water-risk areas by 2025
  • Ensure that 100 percent of wastewater from our operations meets PepsiCo’s standards for the protection of the environment by 2025

Specific to the new hydration platform, the system simply connects to a regular, local water line and applies nano-filtration – a popular water filtration process that helps reduce chemicals as well as bad tastes and odors, while leaving in minerals like calcium – for final delivery of great tasting hydration with every pour.

ODP: What is Pepsi doing to improve recycling of plastic in the U.S.?    

SF: As part of PepsiCo’s Beyond the Bottle strategy, we’re striving to build a world where plastics never become waste. This hydration platform is one way that we’re working to make it convenient and engaging for people to make sustainable choices throughout the day – namely, cutting down on single-use plastic bottles. We’ve learned that a number of consumers are looking to reduce the amount of plastic they use on a day to day basis, for various reasons. So this platform gives consumers, who are using more reusable bottles, more great-tasting and healthy beverage options.

Our sustainable plastics vision is rooted in three pillars: Reducing the amount of plastics we use; Recycling and Reusing the plastics we buy (circular economy), and Reinventing our plastic packaging.

  • Reduce: In addition to Beyond the Bottle innovations, we have also made our PET bottles lighter-weight. We also offer a mix of PET alternatives, from aluminum cans to the reusable glass.
  • Recycle/ReusePepsiCo is working to support a circular economy for plastics. By displacing some of the virgin plastic with recycled plastic, we can reduce waste, lower our dependency on non-renewable fossil resources and boost the carbon and resource efficiency of our packaging. We have a number of efforts to prevent plastic packaging ending up as waste and increase the availability of recycled material. PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation are investing heavily to support innovative solutions to improve recycling infrastructure and education around the world.
  • Reinvent: We are working to expand our portfolio to go Beyond the Bottle — such as SodaStream, Gatorade Gx, Drinkfinity, Spire — that deliver beverages to consumers without single-use plastic bottles. Our new hydration platform is a great example of this.

Thanks so much, Scott, and we hope PepsiCo will meet and exceed the goals of the Performance with Purpose 2025 agenda. Keep us posted on your progress!

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