Converting Waste into Renewable Energy: PepsiCo’s New Project

30 November 2023
Compressed Biogas

Several types of organic waste, including human, animal, agricultural, and more, are taking space on this planet. Thanks to human ingenuity and technological development, it is now possible to convert vast amounts of waste into renewable energy.

While we are stating this, let us discuss PepsiCo’s effort to reduce carbon emissions by transforming waste into renewable sources of energy.

PepsiCo Inc. is an American multinational snack, beverage, and food corporation. The global leader has recently introduced a project to transform waste into renewable energy, and all of this will be done at the company’s snack plant in Carregado, Portugal. This is PepsiCo’s first move to reduce carbon emissions at its Southern Europe site.

In April, the plant received a new biodigester that uses potato peelings, sludge produced at the facility, and other food waste to produce biogas. The process includes:

  • Pre-treating waste material.
  • Converting it into clean organic compounds.
  • Processing it through the biological process to obtain biogas.

For this project, PepsiCo has invested a gigantic amount of 7.5 million Euros, and the company estimates about a 30% decrease in carbon emissions at their facility. Nelson Sousa, the Plant Manager of PepsiCo, Portugal, said, “The new biodigester will have the capacity to convert 21,900 tons of organic waste per year, which equals a 30% reduction in the carbon emissions during the production process.”

PepsiCo plans to use biogas from biogas storage as a substitute for natural gas in different production stages, heat sanitary water in the cafeteria and shower rooms, and sanitize the production lines. Mr. Sousa further said, “The plant has considered a conservative scenario, in which 30% of plant gas needs will be covered by the biogas produced by the new biodigester. It may be higher (up to 40%) depending on the waste availability.”

PepsiCo: Investment in Sustainable Energy

The company’s recent initiative is based on the existing sustainable investments done at the Carregado facility in 2012. The biogas production system installed back then successfully reduced the electricity consumption by 50% at the wastewater treatment plant.

PepsiCo used sustainable energy in all its Portugal facilities and signed a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) while announcing significant changes that began on January 1, 2023. The aim was to improve the traceability and quality of sustainable energy while ensuring that the energy supply continues for years.

PepsiCo aims to place sustainability at the core of its business with the help of the Pep+ strategy – an end-to-end transformation. Let us understand the strategy a bit more.

PepsiCo’s Pep+ Strategy

The focus of PepsiCo’s Pep+ strategy is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses by over 40% by the year 2030 (PepsiCo plans to decrease the emissions of GHG in its direct operations by 75% and in the company’s indirect operations by around 40%.). The company aims to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

The company’s operations expert said, “Any initiative focused on energy efficiency and CO2 reductions is a priority for PepsiCo as a part of our Pep+ agenda. So, we are confident this project will positively contribute to achieving our targets.” This strategy is expected to reduce over 26 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, equivalent to removing around five million vehicles, particularly cars, from the roads for a year.

Katharina Stenholm, PepsiCo’s Europe’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said, “PepsiCo’s Pep+ strategy provides a clear roadmap on how our business can sustainably grow and bring value to the planet and people. We are proud to start the year by announcing a new biodigester, a first for PepsiCo in Southern Europe. Now, we will accelerate collaboration with our partners to ensure we have the right infrastructure and eco-systems to deliver positive change across the value chain.”

Mr. Sousa added, “We hope this project will be a case study showing PepsiCo’s sustainability practices at the European level and also be an example of circularity and conversation at a local level since the project hopes to use the waste from outside our plant in the future.”

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