US – American multinational snack and beverage company, PepsiCo is moving beyond the electric truck pilot program and is embarking on a large-scale transition of its fleet to electric and other zero-emission technologies.

According to a report by GreenBiz, the maker of Pepsi Soda, has a goal of converting a large portion of the 27,000 trucks and vans that move its products to more sustainable technologies.

At the moment, the company through its Frito-Lay snack food division, is using a manufacturing facility in Modesto, California, as a testbed to try to learn lessons about scaling up electric vehicles.

The company says that so far, it has been able to  cut the greenhouse gas emissions of the fleet at the Modesto site in half and the diesel use by 78 percent by using 60 vehicles that run off batteries, natural gas and renewable natural gas.

Pepsico says that the facility is still waiting for 15 Tesla Semi electric trucks which are due for delivery before the end of 2021.

The 15 trucks are believed to be part of 100 Tesla semis that PepsiCo had pre-ordered from Tesla almost three years ago.

Even as it accelerates its transition to green locomotion, PepsiCo notes that equipment availability has been a challenge as confirmed by Steve Hanson, senior director for fleet operations, engineering and sustainability at Frito-Lay.

But to reach its sustainability goals — carbon neutral by 2040 and a 75 percent reduction of absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — PepsiCo will need these technologies and is thus embracing EV from manufacturers, even those in pre-production stages.

A US$40m scholarship for Black and Hispanic students

As the transition to green energy intensifies, PepsiCo is also doubling down on its corporate social responsibility, announcing a new US$40 million scholarship for Black and Hispanic aspiring and graduating community college students.

In a statement, the company said that the scholarship aims to address barriers that make it difficult for low-income students of color to pursue higher education which according to PepsiCo, is a key pathway to better pay, greater job opportunities, and long-term economic security.

The comprehensive program provides students with financial support as well as mentoring and leadership training from PepsiCo employees. Students will also have the opportunity to apply for internships and jobs at PepsiCo.

The program is comprised of two types of scholarships – Uplift Scholarships for students seeking two-year associate degrees or trade certificates and S.M.I.L.E (Success Matters in Life & Education) scholarships for community college graduates transitioning to four-year colleges.

Scholarship recipients will also receive funding for education expenses like tuition and books as well as financial support for eligible living expenses.

The scholarship program is a part of PepsiCo’s more than US$570 million commitment over the next five years to lift up Black and Hispanic businesses and communities in the U.S.

As part of this effort, PepsiCo says it is increasing its spending with Hispanic- and Black-owned suppliers, increasing diverse leadership within the company and funding community engagement initiatives.

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