PepsiCo Inc. is reducing the amount of plastic it uses in bottles of some nonsoda drinks, in the latest move by beverage companies to appeal to consumers concerned about environmental waste and global warming.
The new half-liter (16.9-oz.) bottle contains at least 20% less plastic than the one it is replacing, and it will be used for some versions of Lipton iced tea, Tropicana juice drinks, a flavored water called Aquafina FlavorSplash and an enhanced water known as Aquafina Alive, Pepsi said.
The Purchase, N.Y., company is slimming its half-liter Aquafina water bottle to 13.2 grams from 15 grams, putting it among the lightest water bottles on the U.S. market.
Pepsi, Coca-Cola Co., Nestlé SA and others have been shrinking the weight of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, bottles in recent years as public criticism of plastic bottles has grown. Environmental activists say plastic bottles create waste and increase consumption of oil, the basic ingredient. Last year, Nestlé introduced a 12.5-gram half-liter bottle for its Poland Spring, Deer Park, Ozarka and other brands. Coke has "lightweighted" its Dasani bottle. The moves also help companies reduce costs as they grapple with increased prices of commodities.
Critics call moves to reduce the amount of plastic in beverage bottles welcome but not enough, as they don't address the problem that few plastic bottles are recycled, they say.
Lightweighting bottles for flavored or carbonated beverages is harder because a thick plastic wall is needed to protect ingredients from exposure to oxygen, which reduces shelf life. Soda presents challenges because carbonated drinks need a thick wall to retain the carbon dioxide that creates bubbles.
Pepsi and others oppose bottle- and can-deposit bills, which have boosted recycling rates in states where they have been passed. The companies say they are taking other steps. Pepsi works with recycling programs and urges consumers to recycle with advertising on its Pepsi-Cola and Diet Pepsi aluminum cans. The company uses 10% recycled material in its plastic soda bottles, and it is working on increasing that amount.
Coke says it uses about 5% recycled content in bottles of sodas, teas, water and other drinks. The company says it has invested in recycling programs and is building a plant to recycle bottles.