PepsiCo Achieves its First Circular Water System in Mexico Production Facility 

PepisCo's Vallejo Facility

PepisCo's Vallejo Facility

by | Aug 23, 2022

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PepisCo's Vallejo Facility

PepisCo’s Vallejo Facility

Water in Mexico City and many other places around the globe is in high demand. According to the local government, less than half of the water used in the region is replenished, and three-quarters of the water available comes from an underground aquifer—which is often drained without being replaced, leading to water stress within the region. Now more than ever, water is a precious commodity that needs to be preserved, and businesses have a significant role in that process.

The PepsiCo manufacturing facility in Vallejo, Mexico is one of the company’s biggest production facilities. It produces a range of convenient foods from PepsiCo’s portfolio. Water is routinely used to maintain operations, including washing potatoes before they get sliced and cooked into chips and other convenient snacks produced at the facility.

PepsiCo Global Sustainability Director David Grant shares some insights.

How is PepsiCo conserving water in its operations?

PepsiCo considers water a human right. Water stewardship has long been one of PepsiCo’s top priorities. Building a Positive Value Chain is essential—one of the critical pillars of our PepsiCo Positive (pep+) transformation, which puts sustainability and human capital at the company’s heart. It has made water conservation a key priority in building a Positive Value Chain by investing in innovative technologies and projects to conserve water. It reuses water throughout the value chain whenever possible and gives back water to local communities where the company operates.

To make a meaningful dent in its ambitious water conservation goals, the company starts by recovering and reusing the water in its facilities. Additionally, it is sourcing, purifying, and reusing water used by other food companies where it collects water. This water is then taken and treated to World Health Organization (WHO) potable water standards to be reused in manufacturing operations. Through this process, no freshwater needs to be taken from local water sources.

Other processes and technologies PepsiCo has implemented to achieve this goal include:

  • Harvesting rainwater;
  • Investing in condensation and water recovery systems; and
  • Technologies developed in-house such as Splash Cone, a special water sprinkler that more efficiently disperses water used to cut the potatoes for PepsiCo’s chips.

What have been the results of the innovations at this plant?

As a result of years of investment and innovation, PepsiCo has achieved our first truly circular water system at its Vallejo, Mexico facility. For a full 90 days between April and July 2022, this plant has consumed no freshwater (zero lt/kg). It draws all of the water used from “reuse” sources instead of freshwater or municipal water supplies. The impact of this milestone is equivalent to the annual water consumption for 4,000 families. 

By not drawing any water from the municipal water supply, the company can continue its operations without impacting the local watershed and its communities, ensuring it maintains a consistent and dependable presence as a regional partner.

PepsiCo has achieved a 67% improvement in water use efficiency at the Vallejo facility compared to a 2015 baseline. It intends to share what it has learned from the Vallejo manufacturing plant—along with additional learnings from approximately 100 other manufacturing sites—to scale and expand projects to increase safe water access and reduce the amount of freshwater needed for operations to more than 1,000 sites around the globe.

How do you plan on using these insights to inform your water strategy moving forward?

“This program at the Vallejo facility directly ladders up to our goal to become net water positive in our operations by 2030, enhancing watershed management in our agricultural supply chain and contributing to community water health,” says PepsiCo’s Grant. “Altogether, our water ambition aims to reduce absolute water use and support improving watershed health by replenishing more than 100% of the water we use by putting it in local watersheds.”

The company aims to achieve “best-in-class” water-use efficiency at all company-owned and third-party manufacturing facilities by 2030, covering more than 1,000 facilities in high-risk and lower-risk watersheds. Bringing about long-term, permanent improvements to at-risk watersheds requires scale, partnership, and engagement from all stakeholders in each catchment — the areas where it collects water. The Vallejo facility has proven how this method can be successful, and it is giving PepsiCo the verve to carry on — to take its water ambitions to a global scale.

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