Use Innovation to Guide Sustainability

January 21, 2011

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In 2008, PepsiCo UK & Ireland (PUK) announced its Path to Zero, a pledge to “unplug factories from the water mains, eliminate sending waste to landfill within 10 years and become a fossil fuel free operation by 2023.”

According to its recently published “Environmental Sustainability Report 2009/10,” PUK has already reduced its total energy consumption by 7.3 percent, its landfill waste by 88 percent and its total water consumption by 14.6 percent. All the while, its business has grown by more than 15 percent and its carbon footprint has shrunk by 3.7 percent.

“This approach is not simply altruism,” PUK President Richard Evans said in the forward to the report. “I am confident of the business case. Building sustainability and health into our corporate DNA creates longer-term strategic advantage. Sustainable businesses can cut costs, drive innovation, reduce risk and motivate employees. It can help our retail customers and increase consumer loyalty.”

With PUK's success in mind, I wanted to take a moment to remind you of the important role innovation plays in sustainability.

It's not easy for companies to go green. It can be expensive and time consuming.

According to BusinessGreen.com, Evans gave a talk to the Aldersgate Group in which he spoke of the challenges to corporate sustainability posed by current UK policy. He thinks, as do I, that the government ought to offer incentives for choosing renewable energy.

I applaud Evans and PUK for going green despite government setbacks by finding their own incentives: The return on investment in sustainable practices and an improved brand reputation among customers.

The role innovation plays in sustainability is that it helps businesses solve environmental problems in ways that create great value for the company's bottom line and its consumers and stakeholders.

PepsiCo has set some lofty goals for the next 10, 15 and 20 years. I look forward to following its progress!

– Kathie