Last Sunday, over 100 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl 56. Though some of you may have been disappointed by the Los Angeles Rams taking the championship ring over the Cincinnati Bengals, one thing that didn't disappoint was the halftime show sponsored by Pepsi. With all our favourite old-school rappers making an appearance, from Snoop Dogg to Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige, Pepsi did it again, by making this year's halftime show another smashing success. But this year’s Super Bowl halftime show isn't the only successful venture PepsiCo has had; they have recently partnered up with Israeli startup UBQ Material to make their brand more sustainable.

PepsiCo, the creators of the cola Pepsi drink, is one of the world's largest food and beverage companies. PepsiCo products are enjoyed more than a billion times a day by consumers in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a broad range of food and beverage products, including 23 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual sales. Some brands in their portfolio include Pepsi, Gatorade, Quaker, Lay’s, Doritos, Ruffles, and Cheetos, to name a few. As a whole, PepsiCo generated more than $70 billion in global net revenue in 2020.

What is remarkable about PepsiCo, isn't just their annual revenues, but rather their ambitious sustainability goals; they are putting sustainability at the heart of their business. They are striving to be the food and beverages global leader in making a change with an end-to-end strategy that places sustainability at the center; PepsiCo’s sustainability strategy helps the company create value and growth while operating within the plant's limits, yet still inspires positive change for the environment and people. One of their robust environmental goals is to try to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions by 40% in less than a decade and become Net-Zero by 2040. Moreover, they are trying to tackle plastic waste with objectives and concrete actions that ensure their plastic products don't end up in landfills. PepsiCo is aiming to cut virgin plastic by 50% across its entire food and beverage portfolio and use 50% recycled content in its plastic packaging by 2030. Additionally, they are designing 100% of packaging to be recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable and investing to increase recycling rates in key markets by 2025.

One way in which PepsiCo is achieving their plastic objectives is by partnering up with Israeli startup UBQ Materials. UBQ Materials has developed an advanced conversion technology that makes the world's first bio-based thermoplastic made entirely of unsorted municipal and household waste, including mixed plastics, cardboard, paper, and organics. Their product is a suitable substitute for conventional polymers and oil-based plastics for various durable applications. Essentially, by diverting waste they are not only taking a load off landfills worldwide but are also preventing GHG emissions.

UBQ Materials ecological pellets. Credit: UBQ Materials

The collaboration between PepsiCo and UBQ Materials started with an initial project that manufactured 830 ecological pellets to be used in two of the company's logistics centers. Since UBQ uses pellets that are made from recycled materials that include recycled PP resin and recycled BOPP, a plastic film used in the company's snack packaging, PepsiCo is coming full circle in their circular economy cycle. Moreover, they are studying the possibility of implementing UBQ as a raw material for other applications across their supply chain, which will further push their ESG agenda. In this initial project alone, the material implementation saved the equivalent of more than 6,500 kg of GHG emissions which is the equivalent of the annual carbon sequestration of 534 trees. What’s more, is that over 739 kg of mixed waste will be redirected from landfills and looped back into the material as a valuable resource.

As Raphael Cyjon, Senior Director of Operations at PepsiCo LatAm, stated, "This innovation is very exciting for PepsiCo because it helps us on our journey through materials that replace virgin plastic while at the same time working on CO2 reduction. UBQ’s material represents an alternative to the chain, especially with regard to collection, sorting, transportation and final disposal in landfills.” Hopefully, the success of this initial project will lead to PepsiCo scaling up these solutions in all parts of the world.

UBQ Materials was founded by Jack Bigio (co-CEO), Yehuda Pearl (Strategic Advisor), and Eran Levy (General Counsel) in 2012. Albert Douer, chairman and co-CEO of UBQ Material expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership: "When an industry leader like PepsiCo implements UBQ in its products to advance sustainable development goals, it serves as an example to governments, brands, and major manufacturers that solutions to fight climate change are here, they only need be utilized.”