Food and beverage giant PepsiCo announced a $35 million investment with circular economy investor Closed Loop Partners, launching the Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund, aiming to increase recycling in U.S. communities with no or limited access to recycling, reduce waste and unlock supply of recycled plastic and other valuable materials.

The investment funds will be used to deploy small-scale modular Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in underserved communities that currently lack access to larger municipal MRFs.  Each new facility will provide the capacity to recycle at least 8,000 tons per year of materials, yielding higher quality plastic, while reducing costs and emissions associated with transporting materials to distant facilities.

According to the companies, community lack of access to recycling infrastructure is often due to lack of funding or geographic distance from facilities that process materials. The new small-scale modular MRFs address these issues, requiring less capital to deploy compared to larger facilities, and reducing the need to transport materials to distant facilities.

Ron Gonen, Founder & CEO of Closed Loop Partners, said:

“This first-of-a-kind investment from PepsiCo ushers in a new future for local recycling, empowering communities across rural America and small cities to reduce waste and harness the value of their recycled commodities. By closing the loop on these commodities, which can then re-enter local manufacturing supply chains, we are better equipping communities with the tools needed for resilience against a globally changing climate, while also creating new revenue opportunities and jobs. We look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with PepsiCo to build and strengthen circular supply chains.”

The announcement follows the launch last year by PepsiCo of its comprehensive sustainability framework, pep+, encompassing a broad range of ESG initiatives across agriculture practices, climate, water and packaging sustainability, and consumer health. The company also introduced a series of packaging goals, including commitments to cut virgin plastic per serving by 50% across its global food & beverage portfolio by 2030, and use 50% recycled content in its plastic packaging.

Jason Blake, Chief Sustainability Officer and SVP at PepsiCo Beverages North America, said:

“As companies – including PepsiCo – set ambitious goals to use more recycled content in their packaging, there is more need than ever for partnerships and investments to increase recycling in the U.S. We need to develop the infrastructure that makes recycling available to more Americans so we can recover the high-quality material that can be used in our packaging. Through pep+, our end-to-end strategic transformation, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. As the exclusive investor in the Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund, we are actively driving the changes needed to transform the US recycling system and move towards a circular economy.”