- Keurig Dr Pepper has laid out a series of sustainability goals — including using 100% recyclable or compostable packaging and sending no waste to landfills by 2025, according to a press release. K-cups, the company said, will be 100% recyclable by 2020.
- Additionally, the beverage company pledged to use 30% post-consumer recycled packaging across its products and source 100% renewable energy by 2025.
- The company has also committed to developing carbon emissions targets in coordination with the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi), meaning it will set goals "in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures."
While the company has an immense portfolio of beverage brands, Keurig Dr Pepper has a lot of ground to make up when it comes to public perception and sustainability due largely to one in particular.
Keurig K-cups, and single-use coffee pods more generally, are widely recognized as unsustainable by consumers, and Keurig's attempt in 2016 to make them more recyclable by adjusting the type of plastic used fell somewhat flat, as competitors found biodegradable alternatives. Despite that reputation, single-pod sales have increased for the company for the last several quarters, and executives may see an upside in re-converting consumers that have abandoned K-cups.
These diverse sustainability initiatives are an aggressive start to changing that narrative.
Heavy hitters in sustainability, such as the SBTi and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, are strong endorsements for the seriousness of these commitments.
Keurig Dr Pepper has signed the foundation's New Plastic Economy Global Commitment, a pledge to eliminate unnecessary plastic; ensure all remaining plastics are reusable, recyclable or compostable; and keep existing plastic in use and out of the environment.
Beyond plastic in packaging, this list of new efforts addresses waste, water and carbon emissions — each of which will likely require some shifts in the supply chains of Keurig Dr Pepper's brands. The company will soon release its first-ever sustainability report, according to its website.
It remains to be seen how drastic the company's work will need to be to meet the SBTi standards for carbon reduction. Keurig Dr Pepper has submitted a letter expressing its intention to lower carbon emissions to SBTi's standards.
The company signed on in May 2019 and now has 24 months to develop, submit for approval and publicize firm targets for carbon emission reduction. So far, 46 food and beverage processing companies have committed to setting science-based targets, and 22 — including PepsiCo and Nestlé — have approved targets in place.