PepsiCo Interview

Smithers are excited to share an exclusive 60 second interview from Sustainability in Packaging Europe 2020 with Dr Paul Collins, R&D Packaging Director, Europe Foods from PepsiCo.

1. You will be taking part in one of the highlights of the event; the big brand and retailer panel which focuses on moving beyond targets and exploring the initiatives that have been put in place. Can you give us a preview of some of the things that you will be sharing (without giving too much away!)?

No one wants to see plastic waste in the environment and we have to play a role in addressing that.  I’ll be talking about what PepsiCo has been doing to build a world where plastic need never become waste, how we’re reducing the packaging we use, ensuring more can be recycled and reused and looking at ways to reinvent packaging with new materials and models. During the conference I’ll be touching on some of the material technology developments as well as the packaging equipment technology we have been working on as a business within our foods category.

2.    The pandemic has obviously impacted every industry, including the packaging industry:
a.    What are some of the most important impacts that you are already seeing? 
b.    How do you think consumer attitudes have changed?

a.    COVID-19 is still having a devastating impact on our society and transforming industries across the globe.  One thing that is clear is how important and fragile our food system is; it has been robust in the face of extreme pressure but I think it raises awareness of the impact that other very significant threats such as climate change could have and the need to take action to address that now.  Coming into this conference I think the packaged good industry needs to look at how we can drastically reduce Green House Gas emissions and make sustainable choices on the future of packaging that will not have any unintended consequences.  The other insight coming out of COVID is more hopeful; The last few months have shown how when faced with a crisis the world came together, taking action collectively to address a problem.  This is the approach we need to take to tackle the plastic waste crisis which requires system wide change to resolve.  We can only make progress in this area by working collaboratively. 

b.    From a more broader perspective on the impacts of the pandemic, we are seeing some shifts in consumer behaviour with more at home snacking occasions, increasing trust in big brands and both a resurgence of the weekly shop along with a rapid acceleration in eCommerce. From a packaging perspective we are seeing a growth in multipacks and so have been focussing our reduction efforts on more compact multipack outers launching a 30% reduction earlier in the year.

3. What do you think will be the biggest challenges to packaging sustainability in the next 12-24 months? How do you think the conference agenda addresses these?

PepsiCo’s portfolio is 88% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable at present.  Our biggest challenge to getting to 100% is around flexible packaging.  We know that in some markets in Europe that flexible packaging is recycled such as in Germany but there is no consistency across the EU.  We really need more broad alignment and standardization on packaging and recycling so we can ensure more higher quality recycling is achieved and also to make it easier for consumers to understand what they need to do with different packaging. 

We are actively collaborating with other brands and others across the packaging industry as well as  speaking to policy makers and governments to create the waste management stream needed across collection, sorting and recycling of flexible film to give it a second, third and fourth life. The conference agenda contains speakers and experts from right across the value chain and I’m definitely looking forward to various points of view on many packaging sustainability topics.

4. What do you think will be some of the most interesting advancements in materials or packaging types in the near future? 

We are working on a number of material technology workstreams, some of which I can share a little about, others I can’t! Our recent launch of Doritos Stax, in a more than 95% paper canister, which goes into your paper recycling bin was a very exciting and proud moment for me and my team particularly as it is made of more than 60% recycled content. Many years of development went into that project and having the lid tethered to the body of the canister has been a feature well-received by the consumer. I am looking forward to seeing brand owners like ourselves working more closely with what would have been historically considered our competitors but at PepsiCo we recognise we can’t solve the problem in isolation and strong partnerships with suppliers, retailers and local governments will be crucial to succeed.

5. What are you most looking forward to about the Sustainability in Packaging Europe Conference? Which other speakers are you most looking forward to hearing from?

I’m looking forward to connecting with my industry peers and learning about the various challenges and opportunities they face in their companies. I’m excited about all the panel discussions and there are quite a few presentations I’m particularly interested in but I feel it would be unfair to say which ones!