PepsiCo and Vytal roll out reusable cups enhanced with digital dual tracking for simplified returns

Image Source: Vytal

In late 2023, PepsiCo and sustainable system provider Vytal started a Germany wide reuse initiative named the “Vytal Pepsi Cup,”.  The collaboration introduces reusable cups equipped with digital tracking systems, including QR codes for user interaction and RFID tags for operational efficiency, aiming to foster a culture of reuse through a network of Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) partners. With a dedicated app, enabling consumers to easily find and utilize return points PepsiCo trials reusable solutions within the away-from-home segment and the corresponding consumer acceptance.


The Vytal Pepsi Cup introduces a dual-tracking technology system, employing both an individual QR code for direct consumer interaction and an RFID tag for optimizing operational processes. This dual approach ensures the cup’s journey from distribution through to return is both traceable and efficient. PepsiCo and Vytal are rolling out this system through PepsiCo’s Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) partners in Germany, aiming to distribute 100,000 of branded cups over the next two years, starting with Pizza Hut and expanding to other QSRs.


Technological Synergy QR Codes and RFID Tags

At the core of the Vytal Pepsi Cup’s design are its QR code and RFID tag. The QR code engages and integrates customers directly, offering a personalized experience through the Vytal app, where users can easily find return locations. The RFID tag streamlines the cup’s lifecycle management, including dispensing, return, cleaning, and redistribution and aims to simplify these processes significantly. The combination might not only facilitate an increasingly seamless customer experience with reuse but also supports operational efficiency on a mass scale. According to PepsiCo and Vytal, the individual assignment of a cup to a user account enables personalized offers and rewards.


Engage the Consumers as Partners

“To make a real contribution to protecting ecosystems, reusable packaging must work on a mass scale. This requires real added value for end customers and an innovative, scalable approach,” says Dr. Josephine Kreische, Managing Director of Vytal. Cooperation with end users is essential. The result depends on how accessible the partners are for the purchase and return of the cups and how easily the consumer can be involved in the reverse logistics. This means that the return of this type of packaging must be easy to integrate into everyday life. In addition, the willingness to cooperate on the consumers side is also achieved through education in the subject and good communication, which will be essential for broader application in the future.


Scaling by Expanding the Partner Network

A critical component in practicality and communication is the extensive network of QSR partners, which play a vital role in the cup’s distribution and return logistics. The introduction through Pizza Hut exemplifies the approach to use well known and established distributers in order to replace disposable cups with reusable alternatives, communicating and thereby encourage sustainable conscious practices among both businesses and consumers. The Vytal app implements these encouragements by practically guiding consumers in the process of returning their cups.

The goal of PepsiCo is to play a role in protecting the planet by making reusable packaging viable on a large scale and thereby limit waste.

The personalized data collected through this system aims to enhance customer experience and aligns with GDPR standards, ensuring privacy and data protection. Data collection is instrumental for PepsiCo and Vytal to track sustainability metrics and adapt their strategies based on consumer behavior insights and is seemingly the only effective way to incorporate all stakeholders into the process.


Sustainable Practices made feasible by Technology, Network and Engagement

The partnership between PepsiCo and Vytal is a good example of the potential significance of collaborative solutions in addressing environmental, structural, and cultural challenges connected to waste, consumption and reuse. The integration of QR codes, RFID technology and the Vytal-app not only makes the idea behind the trial scalable but also assumingly consumer-friendly, showcasing a holistic and market focused approach to reducing waste. Accordingly Digital technology could make the return process in the Away From Home  sector straightforward and rewarding for the consumer by incorporating packaging as part of an interactive “eco-conscious experience”.

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