We tend not to think of a firm like PepsiCo as a change agent. Yet, when you consider what they’re up to in rural Arizona, that title applies.
International Herald Tribune is running a story about the greening of a Frito-Lay’s factory in Casa Grande, south of Phoenix.
Frito-Lay is embarking on an ambitious plan to change the way this factory operates, and in the process, create a new type of snack: the environmentally benign chip.
Its goal is to take the Casa Grande plant off the power grid, or nearly so, and run it almost entirely on renewable fuels and recycled water. Net zero, as the concept is called, has the backing of the highest levels of corporate executives at PepsiCo, the parent company of Frito-Lay.
Over the next several years, Frito-Lay plans to install high-tech filters that would recycle most of the water used to rinse and wash potatoes, as well as the corn used to make Doritos and other snacks, and then burn the leftover sludge to create methane gas to run the plant’s boiler.
The company will also build at least 50 acres of solar concentrators behind the plant to generate solar power. A biomass generator, which will probably burn agricultural waste, is also planned to provide additional renewable fuel.
The retrofit of the Casa Grande factory, scheduled to be completed by 2010, would reduce electricity and water consumption by 90 percent and its natural gas use by 80 percent. Greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by 50 percent to 75 percent, the company said.
Arguably, this kind of long term visionary thinking about manufacturing and how much impact a single bag of chips makes on the environment, is so much more valuable to a company than an improved website or a new TV campaign.
This move by Pepsi may have come from an engineer’s mind, not an ad person’s, but it has big implications for those who would convey the brand’s value to the marketplace. In forums like this we talk about the need for agencies to be involved in R&D, manufacturing and distribution–basically, the entire chain from raw material to the cash register. To me, this means we’re beginning to recognize that it’s not about our ads for the brand anymore. It’s about helping our clients make good decisions that ultimately moves product and increases the future viability of the brand.