PepsiCo Europe Embraces Circular Packaging for Snacks

Together with recycling infrastructure leader GreenDot, the brand owner aims to recycle plastic waste back into flexible packaging for snacks.

Kate Bertrand Connolly, Freelance Writer

May 30, 2024

2 Min Read
PepsiCo Europe recycled-content flexible snack packaging
PepsiCo Europe

At a Glance

  • Chemical recycling will enable production of food-grade films with recycled content.
  • Closing the loop between plastic packaging waste and new packaging is fundamental.
  • The partners’ previous partnership delivered 50%-recycled Sunbites crisps packaging.

PepsiCo Europe is teaming up with GreenDot Group to recycle plastic waste back into materials that can be used for PepsiCo’s snack packaging. The collaboration will aid in scaling GreenDot’s recycling capabilities, including advanced (aka chemical) recycling.

The partners have not disclosed the amount or form of PepsiCo Europe’s “investment support” for GreenDot.

Founded in Germany in 1990, GreenDot is an extended producer responsibility (EPR) management and circular-plastic recycling provider that produces high-quality recyclates, including from hard-to-recycle waste streams.

“This agreement is an important milestone for the industry. It further paves the way towards a circular economy of plastic packaging, with the support of a new type of long-term collaboration between key players of the value chain,” said Laurent Auguste, CEO of GreenDot, in a prepared statement.

The collaboration aligns with PepsiCo’s goal to increase recycled content in its packaging and reduce its corporate carbon footprint. “GreenDot will invest in developing plastic packaging-to-packaging recycling capacities, including advanced recycling of polyolefins, providing needed solutions at scale for the food industry,” Auguste said.

GreenDot is currently expanding its German sorting/recycling capabilities and developing sorting/recycling assets in Austria and Italy. It is also building a network of mechanical and chemical recycling plants in Europe to supply brands and converters with circular polymers.

The timing of the collaboration, and its focus on flexible packaging materials, are both noteworthy. Flexible packaging across product categories, but especially for food, does not typically include recycled content.

However, through the Ellen MacArthur Global Commitment, PepsiCo has vowed to design 100% of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025. That’s a serious challenge for snack brands, as snacks are typically packaged in hard-to-recycle multilayer flexible materials.

The collaboration with GreenDot is also in line with PepsiCo Europe’s goal to eliminate virgin fossil-based plastic in all its crisp and chip bags by 2030.

Sunbites’ 50%-recycled packaging.

News of the collaboration complements the March 2024 announcement of PepsiCo Europe’s work with GreenDot to develop premium-quality, 50%-recycled flexible packaging for Sunbites crisps.

The new Sunbites packaging rolled out in the United Kingdom and Ireland in late 2023, and PepsiCo Europe plans to launch it in more countries, shortly.

PepsiCo-Europe-recycled-content-flexible-snack-packaging-2-web.jpg

The new Sunbites packaging is made from food-grade film, which is in turn made from virgin-quality recycled polypropylene resin produced using pyrolysis oil derived from the chemical recycling of plastic waste. GreenDot ensured the supply of post-consumer plastic packaging waste for the project.

The other supply chain partners collaborating on the Sunbites initiative include resin producer INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe, film converter IRPLAST, and flexible-packaging manufacturer Amcor.

The recycled content in the Sunbites packaging is allocated using the mass balance approach, with ISCC Plus certification from International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC).

ISCC certifies nonconventional feedstocks, recycling processes, and chain-of-custody options based on its ISCC Plus standards.

About the Author(s)

Kate Bertrand Connolly

Freelance Writer

Kate Bertrand Connolly has been covering innovations, trends, and technologies in packaging, branding, and business since 1981.

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