Luis Rubén Gutiérrez
Vice President of Operations
PepsiCo Mexico
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View from the Top

At the Forefront of Water Treatment

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 11:13

Q: What have been the most significant accomplishments in terms of green practices and sustainability that have made PepsiCo stand out in the past year?

A: PepsiCo México has ingrained a clear and focused sustainability agenda into the company’s daily operations, creating a positive work environment for employees, driving a strong performance, and unlocking shareholder value. This strategy is called Performance with Purpose (PwP) and is designed to deliver sustained growth. One of the pillars of this method is environmental sustainability, and this is interpreted as the optimization of our value chain through the use of innovative technologies, while simultaneously minimizing our impact on the environment.

PepsiCo Mexico’s environmental strategy is based on three pillars: comprehensive resource management, efficient water usage, and the use of cleaner energies and reducing emissions. Among the most outstanding developments seen as a result of this strategy is the reduction of water usage in our production processes by 47%, migration to the use of wind power for 25% of domestic operations, transformation of the transportation fleet to hybrid technology, and recycling of over 30 million packages. Among the newest advancements are the creation of two new water treatment plants with cutting-edge technology and the inclusion of 100 additional hybrid vehicles to the distribution fleet predicted to reduce carbon emissions by 44%.

Q: Which key water management strategies have you developed, and what technologies have you implemented to reduce your water consumption?

A: As a global food and beverage company, we understand that access to safe water is fundamental to our business and the communities in which we operate. It impacts both our internal company operations and our supply chain, much of which is dependent on water. For us, water stewardship is imperative, which is why at PepsiCo our strategy and commitment to saving and using water efficiently is designed around the essential human right of access to water. For this reason we seek to preserve water resources by promoting efficiency in our operations and implementing advanced technologies that allow us to minimize our water usage, while our associates across the value chain are also embracing a cultural change and taking better care of our natural resources.

We have implemented innovative technologies across our value chain. We have worked hand in hand with local producers in the development of advanced irrigation technologies and techniques. Today, we have managed to convert 90% of the potato fields to efficient pressurized irrigation systems, and with the introduction of stateof-the-art technology to monitor climatologic variables, water savings amount to 30%, compared to alternatives. To reduce our water consumption during production processes, we have installed water treatment plants and Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) plants, which allowed us to reduce our water usage and recycle 25% of it. In addition, we operate according to the Resource Conservation program created by PepsiCo in 2006, which has contributed to a 47% reduction in water consumption.

Q: Could you describe the creation of the water treatment plants in Guadalajara and Saltillo, and what impact they have on the water management of PepsiCo?

A: In order to minimize our environmental impact with regard to wastewater discharged from our processes, we have installed water treatment plants in 11 of our 18 production plants across the country. Five of these are MBR plants, which made it possible to recycle 25% of the water used in our manufacturing plants by the end of 2014. By introducing this cutting-edge technology into Mexico, we have saved the equivalent of the annual consumption of 1,843 families.

These MBR systems apply a combination of technologies to purify the water. Primarily, mechanical and biological methods are used to remove solid and biodegradable waste, and then the water goes through membrane bioreactors. These are essential for eliminating all solid suspensions from the water and reducing turbidity to less than one unit. The water is then disinfected though UV lights, carbon filters, a reverse osmosis system, and the addition of a hypochlorite solution to guarantee the elimination of any contaminating microorganisms. After evaluating the results, we decided to introduce these high-tech treatment plants in Guadalajara and Saltillo to reduce our water usage even further.