Photo: PepsiCo / AP Photo
For those not wholly versed in enviro-speak, PET is short for polyethylene terephthalate, a.k.a. a type of plastic--or to hardcore tree-huggers everywhere, "All that is crazy and absurdly wrong with a consumer-driven society in overdrive."
Indeed, to look at the lowly plastic soda bottle, it can be hard to believe that such an eminently ubiquitous, forgettable and throwaway item could ever have become so socially and politically charged. But then again, it's precisely its unseemly propensity to pop up even the most unexpected of places that has made it increasingly loathed. After all, nothing spoils your eco-bliss like an empty Mountain Dew bottle washing against your ankles in the surf.
Then there are the surprising geopolitical implications of these staples of c-stores everywhere. The U.S. uses an estimated 200,000 barrels of oil a day to produce all the plastic packaging it consumes, including soda bottles.
PepsiCo's new bottle uses no petroleum but instead a medley of "bio-based raw materials," such as switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. The company says that it expects to incorporate agricultural byproducts from its other operations in the production of the bottles, such as orange peels from all that Tropicana OJ PepsiCo squeezes each year.
Coke developed a bottle that contained 30 percent plant-based materials in 2009, adding an new dimension to a rivalry that, once upon a time, was pretty much confined to blind taste-tests.
No doubt PepsiCo hopes that its new "green" bottle goes over better than its last publicized foray into eco-friendly packaging. Though the company has made impressive strides in coming up with more sustainable alternatives to its conventional packaging, such as its lightweight Aquafina water bottles, it made an embarrassing retreat last year when it withdrew its infamous biodegradable SunChips bags from the market because consumers complained that the bags crinkled too loudly.
- Pepsi knows how to drum up interest in its packaging. Read about the uproar surrounding the release of Diet Pepsi "skinny" cans at AOL News.
Hungry for news about fast food, slow food, food politics, food personalities, and food controversies? Then sign up for our weekly newsletter. Plus, be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.