Keurig Dr Pepper commits to cutting new plastic use in packaging

Dive Brief:

  • Keurig Dr Pepper has agreed to cut its use of virgin plastic packaging by 25% by 2025, according to a press release from nonprofit As You Sow. The company will reach this goal by “increasing use of recycled content, elimination of unnecessary material, redesign of packaging, and exploration of reuse models,” the group said. 
  • The beverage giant used 208,000 metric tons of plastic packaging in 2018, according to figures shared by As You Sow. This iniative builds on the company’s goal to eventually make all its packaging compostable or recyclable
  • Keurig Dr Pepper is the third CPG company to announce cuts to virgin plastic use after As You Sow filed a shareholder proposal that would compel it to report how much of its plastic packaging escapes into the environment, joining PepsiCo and Mondelez. The group said it has withdrawn its proposal targeting Keurig Dr Pepper.

Dive Insight:

This new announcement to cut virgin plastic use in packaging from Keurig Dr Pepper shows the potential of shareholder proposals as a tool for groups such as As You Sow to push for greater commitments from large corporations to ramp up their sustainability practices.

Keurig Dr Pepper, which owns numerous packaged beverage brands including Dr Pepper, 7-Up, A&W, Evian and Snapple, had already announced several sustainability goals in 2019, including using 100% recyclable or compostable packaging and sending no waste to landfills by 2025, and pledging to use 30% post-consumer recycled packaging across its products by 2025. According to its 2019 corporate responsibility report90% of Keurig Dr Pepper’s packaging across its entire portfolio is recyclable.

In December 2020, the company announced it had hit its goal of making all of its Keurig K-Cup pods — which many had recognized as unsustainable due to their single-use nature — 100% recyclable.

Keurig Dr Pepper’s commitment to cut virgin plastic use follows other large CPGs responding to As You Sow shareholder proposals.  

PepsiCo has promised a reduction of virgin plastics use, but an actual target won’t be realeased until later this year. In 2019, the CPG giant committed to a 35% reduction in virgin plastic content across its beverage portfolio by 2025. Along with this pledge, PepsiCo is testing paper bottles and recycled molded pulp rings on its soda cans instead of plastic ones. 

Mondelez International also agreed to a 5% reduction in virgin plastic use, including a 25% cut in virgin plastic for its rigid plastic packaging, as announced by As You Sow. The company had previously announced plans to have all recyclable packaging by 2025.

As You Sow has also filed a shareholder proposal for Kraft Heinz, but the company has not yet announced any new commitments to cut virgin plastic use in response. But the company does have sustainability goals, including having 100% recyclable packaging by 2025, and it had eliminated approximately 13 million pounds of packaging between 2017 and 2019. Recently, Kraft Heinz also announced it would be testing recycled plastics in roofing, and recyclable and compostable containers for macaroni and cheese.

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