Pepsi to reduce plastic waste by selling canned water

HARRISON, N.Y. — Pepsi’s plan to reduce plastic waste includes ditching plastic bottles for cans — even for still water.

The company said Friday its Aquafina-brand water will soon be sold in aluminum cans at U.S. fast food and restaurant chains beginning as soon as next year. The company is testing out a broader rollout to retail stores.

Canning water isn’t a new idea. Companies such as Anheuser-Busch have delivered water-in-a-can to emergency workers responding to natural disasters, and a few startups are using trendy marketing in an effort to make canned water a consumer phenomenon. For example, Liquid Death puts water from the Alps in a tallboy can.

Some environmental advocates have championed aluminum over plastic, saying the former is far easier to recycle. And corporations from all types of industries are working to find sustainable alternatives as the world’s plastics problem continues to pile up: An estimated 91% of all plastic waste has never been recycled.

“Tackling plastic waste is one of my top priorities and I take this challenge personally,” PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta said in a statement. “We are doing our part to address the issue head on by reducing, recycling and reinventing our packaging.”

The company said Bubly, its line of flavored sparkling water, will now only be offered in cans. However, Pepsi won’t do away with plastics altogether. Bottled Aquafina will still be available for the time being. And Pepsi said its brand of “premium bottled water,” LifeWtr, will be packaged in a type of plastic that the company says is recyclable and “can be turned into bottles again and again.” Its soda will still come in bottles, too.

The company said the changes will take effect next year and will “eliminate more than 8,000 metric tons of virgin plastic and approximately 11,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emission.”

Pepsi said it has committed to using only recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025, and it’s pledged to make new plastic bottles using 25% recycled material.

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