PepsiCo Carbon Footprinting Tool Uses Big Data to Advance Sustainability

PepsiCo Carbon Footprinting Tool Uses Big Data to Advance Sustainability

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Monday, November 5, 2012 - 12:00pm

As the world becomes more polluted, populated and congested, and as our resources become ever more depleted, humanity is fast reaching the point where sustainable living will become essential to its very survival.

Sustainability – the practice of ensuring that we have, and will continue to have, the resources, materials and water we need to protect our health and the environment – is already a big concern for many governments and industries. But in order for sustainability to succeed, governments businesses need to develop initiatives that are not just environmentally and socially feasible, but also economically viable.

As you’ll learn in today’s series, big data is helping them to do just that, in the key areas of energy efficiency, environmental impact, and resource management.

Carbon Footprints

One of the biggest sustainability goals of environmentally-friendly companies is to reduce their carbon footprint, but tracking this has always been time-consuming and expensive. Not anymore.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute‘s, the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy and PepsiCo, Inc., recently put their heads together and came up with a new software program that can simultaneously calculate the carbon footprint of thousands of individual products at the click of a button. Using the software, it’s hoped that companies will be able to design new ways of reducing their environmental impact.

The project, outlined in this report, began in 2007 and was originally intended to help standardize PepsiCo’s calculations of the carbon emissions for each of their products as they are made, packaged, distributed and finally, disposed of.

Led by Christopher Meinrenken, the team created a life-cycle analysis database on 1,137 different PepsiCo products, before developing an algorithm that calculates various estimated emissions factors for the materials that go into making each product, doing away with the need to manually map each product’s ingredients and packaging materials.

According to Meinrenken:

“The automatically generated factors enable even non-experts to calculate approximate carbon footprints and alleviate resource constraints for companies embarking on large-scale product carbon footprinting.”

Al Halvorsen, senior director of sustainability at PepsiCo, added:

“The newly developed software promises to not only save time and money for companies like PepsiCo, but also to provide fresh insights into how companies measure, manage, and reduce their carbon footprint in the future.”

Read more about how PepsiCo's carbon footprinting tool uses big data at Silicon Angle.