Other Voices: PepsiCo strikes alliance to boost Latin American recycling incentives

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Company’s “Recycling with Purpose” program involves teaming with ecoins to promote collection.

PepsiCo has announced the launch of “Recycling with Purpose,” which it calls a circular economy model designed to promote recycling in Latin America and the Caribbean region. “PepsiCo wants to be part of the solution and we will continue to work to build a world where the plastics we use never become waste,” says Monica Bauer, vice president of corporate affairs at PepsiCo Latin America. Regarding the new program, which involves an alliance with recycling incentives technology provider ecoins, Bauer adds, “We acknowledge that PepsiCo can’t do this alone.” PepsiCo describes ecoins as an initiative founded in Costa Rica designed to increase the collection of PET bottles and other materials. The program allows consumers to exchange their plastic materials for ecoins, a virtual currency they can use to earn discounts on a variety of products and services. Bauer tells the Recycling Today Media Group the program should do more than boost the collection of PET beverage bottles only. “Ecoins works across all recyclable materials that have a market value in that country,” she comments. “In Costa Rica, for example, they are collecting PET, cardboard, aluminum, Tetra Pak, glass, tires and electronics, among others. Thus, recycling is not limited to PepsiCo brand’s packaging materials.” To join the ecoins program and begin earning discounts, participants first create a virtual profile where they can use their email address to store ecoins like a virtual account. Participants can then take clean, dry, and separated materials to collection centers where they will receive ecoins in exchange for the items. “Ecoins was created in Costa Rica and launched in 2018 in response to an increasing demand from conscious consumers to be active in solving environmental problems in countries that lack an adequate system of separation, collection and recovery of waste,” says Karla Chaves, director of the program. “It integrates concepts such as discounts, loyalty, digital marketing, gamification—which are so familiar in our system of consumption—but from a new vision: that of the circular economy. The experience that ecoins offers is that of facilitating the consumer’s learning of the process of the separation of valuable materials while increasing the volume and profitability of the collection centers.” Through the Recycling with Purpose partnership, PepsiCo will support the expansion of the ecoins platform to 10 countries in Latin America during the next two years. That roster of nations includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Guatemala and Jamaica. PepsiCo estimates in 2019 ecoins will have 300,000 accounts and provide recycling awareness to nearly 1 million people thanks to social media campaigns covering seven countries. “At PepsiCo we understand that recycling rates across the food and beverage industry are insufficient,” says Laxman Narasimhan, PepsiCo Global chief commercial officer and CEO of PepsiCo Latin America. “Through this partnership with ecoins, we’re working to make sustainable plastic a reality in the region by creating a circular economy in which plastics become currency, not waste.” Bauer says she also sees the ecoins alliance as a critical step forward. “As we lack recycling infrastructure in many LatAm countries, we need to involve consumers to make recycling a sustainable model. We understand that grassroots recyclers are the basis of any successful recycling system, and they need to continue being part of any system. We will continue to work on joint efforts with the recycling industry to increase access to recycling materials [and] we will develop agreements with recyclers to buy materials a fair market price [to] use the PET collected to produce recycled resin (rPET). The recycled resin produced by PET collected in this program can be used in new Pepsi bottles.” PepsiCo Latin America is a division of the global firm that includes all of its beverage, food and snack businesses in 34 Latin Americana and Caribbean nations. The division generated $7.4 billion dollars in net revenue in 2018, according to PepsiCo.

April 5, 2019
Brian Taylor