After engagement with As You Sow on reducing single use plastic packaging, Keurig Dr Pepper Inc., the third largest non-alcoholic packaged beverage company in North America, has agreed to cut its use of virgin plastic for packaging by 20% by 2025. Keurig Dr Pepper used 208,000 metric tons of plastic packaging in 2018.
Citing new data on the growing plastic pollution problem, As You Sow filed shareholder proposals with 10 leading consumer goods companies and retailers for 2021, including Keurig Dr Pepper, calling for commitments to reduction in use of plastic packaging.
Improved recycling, the focus of As You Sow’s earlier work with companies, is not sufficient to stem the tide of plastic pollution engulfing oceans and must be coupled with reductions in plastic use, materials redesign, and substitution.
Keurig Dr Pepper has informed As You Sow it will achieve the 20% virgin plastic reduction goal through increased use of recycled content, elimination of unnecessary material, redesign of packaging, and exploration of reuse models.
The company will provide more information on how it intends to achieve its goal in its 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report to be published summer of 2021. The company goals will be tied to a baseline year and will reduce an absolute amount of virgin plastic.
“This agreement represents a substantial commitment by Keurig Dr Pepper to reduce its use of virgin plastic used for packaging,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president, As You Sow. “We look forward to continued engagement with management on achieving this goal. We encourage other companies to step forward and make bolder, larger absolute cuts in overall plastic packaging.”
The largest cut in overall plastic use to date by a major consumer goods company was a 2019 commitment by Unilever to cut virgin plastic use by 50%, including a total elimination of 100,000 tons of plastic packaging by 2025.
In recognition of this step by Keurig Dr Pepper, As You Sow withdrew the shareholder proposal it filed with the company.
The company’s goal builds on its previously announced 2025 commitments to use 30% post-consumer recycled content across its packaging portfolio and convert 100% of packaging to be recyclable or compostable.
Keurig Dr Pepper is the third company this year to reach an agreement with As You Sow to reduce use of virgin plastic. PepsiCo committed to a reduction of virgin plastic across its business units and will announce the size of the goal later in 2021. Mondelez International agreed to a 5% reduction in virgin plastic use, including a 25% cut in virgin plastic for its rigid plastic packaging.