February 16, 2016
By Lauren Hepler
The company behind well known beverage brands such as Dr Pepper, 7 Up, Snapple, A&W root beer and Hawaiian Punch is the latest consumer goods giant to jump into efforts aiming to improve naggingly low recycling rates.
As part of a new goal to increase overall drink container recycling rates to 60 percent by 2030, Dr Pepper Snapple Group has announced new investments in two groups: A $5 million, 10-year contribution to the Closed Loop Fund and a $1 million, three-year commitment to public recycling bin provider Keep America Beautiful.
The capital infusion into sustainability causes comes as other companies that sell large quantities of disposable goods realize that large-scale recycling efforts — particularly those that target less resource-intensive “closed loop” or “circular economy” models — are often hindered by lacking recycling infrastructure entrenched behavioral challenges.
The Closed Loop Fund is among those looking to bridge the gap between private companies looking to increase the rate at which consumers recycle their products and municipalities that often lack capital or regulatory incentives to build out better recycling programs.
“Closed loop looked like a fantastic way to approach the issue,” said Kelly Smith, director of government affairs and sustainability for Dr Pepper Snapple Group. “Whether that’s on the private side or the government side, we’ll kind of talk that through.”
With the investment in the Closed Loop Fund, Dr Pepper Snapple joins the likes of Walmart, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson and Keurig, among others, that have invested $5 million to $10 million each to provide municipalities with zero-interest loans and private firms engaged in public-private partnerships with below-market interest rates to catalyze investment in recycling infrastructure.
Activist groups are also putting pressure on large companies to do more to curb waste. Oakland-based shareholder advocacy group As You Sow, for instance, has urged Dr Pepper Snapple Group to match the commitments made by others in their industry.
After facing similar activist pressure, Coca-Cola is now aiming to recycle 50 percent of its own beverage volume by 2015, while PepsiCo is shootingto recycle 50 percent of all beverage containers by 2018.
“They finally announced a goal, but it’s disappointingly weak in the context of peer commitments,” Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, said in a statement. “It seems to really lower the bar to shoot for 60 percent by 2030.” READ MORE…