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PepsiCo Labs enlists six global tech startups to “revolutionize” European supply chains

July 31, 2022
Food & Drink

PepsiCo Labs has selected six technology startups to trial emerging solutions on its European supply chains. The collaborations are geared toward achieving environmental sustainability advances and will be conducted throughout the continent over the course of this year.

The startups will be piloted in locations including Turkey, Belgium and Portugal, with trials focusing on four key areas: efficiency and automation, sustainable cleaning and hygiene, recycling and water recovery.

PepsiCo’s chief sustainability officer for Europe, Katharina Stenholm, tells PackagingInsights that the collaborations began out of necessity.

“The program began with PepsiCo defining some of the key needs across our supply chain function, then PepsiCo Labs outreached to the startup community and filtered through focused criteria,” she says.

The startups who matched were invited to the final filtering stage, an immersion session. Following the immersion, PepsiCo Labs identified which startups to progress to trials, Stenholm explains.

Global startups, European advances
The six selected startups and their pilot locations are:

In Turkey, Pulse Industrial and BrenPower monitors, two companies that detect failures in steam traps through AI systems, will be piloted to reduce carbon impact in PepsiCo factories by reducing steam losses and improving overall efficiency.

UBQ Materials has been enlisted for its patented conversion process, which turns unsorted household waste, including all organics and unrecyclable plastics, into a bio-based thermoplastic with a climate-positive footprint. PepsiCo will use this new material in Lay’s display stands throughout Turkey.

In Portugal, Ozo Innovations will help PepsiCo harness advanced electrochemical technology for more efficient, safer hygiene in manufacturing plants. Ozo’s “elocube” converts cold water and salt into a combined cleaning and disinfecting solution through electrolysis. If successful, PepsiCo says the technology will “revolutionize” cleaning processes by reducing chemical, water and energy use.

Australian startup Security Matters will be equipping PepsiCo with its invisible marker system enabling physical and digital tracking to identify and sort packaging waste, which is logged onto a blockchain system. The technology is designed to enable tracking of closed-loop recycling, authentication of sustainability claims and improve waste sorting.

US-based Elateq, which provides electrochemical wastewater treatment to remove pathogens, organic, and inorganic contaminants in water, will be trialed in Belgium. If successful, the technology will reduce the overall carbon footprint at PepsiCo factories and promote a circular water system.

Refining supply chains
Stenholm says the trials will provide needed analysis of each technology’s viability and help PepsiCo identify how and in what cases each startup can scale their inventions.

“We will be looking to uncover solutions that can make an impact at scale. Our ambition is to identify which technologies will carry the most potential in driving our sustainability agenda and leverage them across our supply chain in Europe and beyond,” she says.

“By embracing emerging technologies, we can identify more sustainable ways of operating throughout the business and put PepsiCo at the forefront of technology innovation.”

If successful, these trials will also boost consumer impact, Stenholm continues.

“We want to provide our consumers with positive choices. One of the ways we can do this is through visibility of the sustainable impact of our brands. As we continue to drive a sustainable supply chain, we can provide products that are better for the planet and people.”

Pep positive
The project is intended to take PepsiCo closer to achieving its Pep Positive (Pep+) objectives, which target “end-to-end transformation” in environmental sustainability and human capital. So far, PepsiCo Labs has already scaled over 30 startups across more than 200 countries.

The work forms part of PepsiCo’s ambition to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 75% by 2030, a goal that is on track according to PepsiCo’s Environmental Sustainability Goal summary released earlier this month.

‘I believe that we must harness a digital future if we want to accelerate positive change. Through PepsiCo Labs, we have a unique gateway into some of the most innovative and ground-breaking technologies, which have the potential to transform how we operate in the supply chain,” says Stenholm.

By Louis Gore-Langton


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