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Drop-for-drop: PepsiCo pledges to replenish the water it uses

Drop-for-drop: PepsiCo pledges to replenish the water it uses

Posting in Energy

Beverage giant no longer satisfied with simply reducing consumption. It aims to give back.

Food and beverage giant has updated its corporate citizenship mission in its latest report, "Performance with Purpose: Investing in Sustainable Growth." There are 47 commitments in all, but I'm especially tuned into what the company is doing with water, since it is a vital component of many of PepsICo's products.

The document, which is structured according to the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, reveals that PepsiCo saved more than 12 billion liters of water in 2009 based on its efficiency improvements. (That compares to its 2006 baseline.) This came alone with a 16 percent reduction in per-unit use of energy in its beverage plants. But it was another number that really gave me pause:

  • In India, PepsiCo has replenished almost 6 billions liters of water, compared with the intake of 5 billion liters used by its manufacturing operations there.

So, what's with that number?

Here's what Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, write in the report's introductory letter:

"One of our goals is to achieve positive water balance across all our businesses. For every liter we use, we intend to return one to the Earth. Sound impossible? We already did it across our India beverage operations. And India is just one step in our journey."

According to the water section of the report, one of the ways that PepsiCo managed to pull this off was by working with farmers to help them reduce that amount of water for rice cultivation in India. PepsiCo is promoting "direct seeding," bypassing the number practice of flooding fields to spur rice production. In 2009, the company helped farmers extend direct seeding cultivation to 6,500 acres of paddy fields. The company also is harvesting rain water and encouraging the use of certain plants to help rejuvenate aquifers.

In India, the intention is to double the replenishment of fresh water consumed by 2015.

There is a lot more to PepsiCo's report aside from water goals, of course, but certainly that is one of the places where the company's sustainability strategy will have the most positive or negative ripple effect. What about yours?

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure