pepsi.jpgPepsiCo has opened its first overseas “green” plant in China in the western megalopolis of Chongqing and reiterated plans to invest $1 billion in the country.

The drinks giant says the Chongqing plant is the first “green” beverage plant to be built in China — and the first plant of any kind in the industrial centre of Chongqing — to comply with the sustainable engineering standards known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED), set by the US Green Building Council.

The plant uses over 35 water and energy saving designs and has an environmental management system to monitor water and energy use on every production line and every piece of equipment in real time

The facility is designed to use 22% less water and 23% less energy than the average PepsiCo plant in China.

To save water, the plant utilises a high-pressure cleaning system and used water is recycled for landscaping and general cleaning

To save energy, 75% of the plant's indoor areas feature natural lighting, including a skylight in the packing area and warehouse. A roof garden insulates the office building and saves energy for cooling and heating.

The new plant is expected to help PepsiCo annually reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,100 tons, water usage by 100,000 tons, and overall energy use by 4m kilowatt hours compared to the former Chongqing plant. It also will serve as an educational centre to raise awareness of good environmental practices among students in the local community.

Impressive though these green ambitions may seem, PepsiCo forgets to talk about the huge environmental impact caused by its products — the millions of discarded plastic bottles and aluminium cans. While PepsiCo loves mounting educational campaigns to convince western consumers to become more “environmentally responsible”, I suspect such messages fall on deaf ears in emerging markets like China.

PepsiCo says the showcase factory in Chongqing is also important to the company's ongoing strategy to expand in emerging markets and broaden its portfolio of locally relevant products — a tacit acknowledgement that not all Asian consumers are as mad about the “classic” Coke or Pepsi as their western counterparts.

In Japan, for example, Coca-Cola has just launched a Green Tea variant of Coke, while Pepsi has replied with basil-flavoured Pepsi Shiso

More on Chongqing and its growing importance to the west in these stories.

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