Member Spotlight: Ryan SpicerJanuary 26, 2023 | BIER
Company: Keurig Dr Pepper
Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.
Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your company.
I’ve been with Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) for about nine months and came PepsiCo where I held several climate-focused roles, including fleet climate strategy and global operations. I also worked within the global sustainability office where I focused on PepsiCo’s operational fleets’ carbon emissions – primarily Scope 1 and Scope 2 – and gained valuable experience with electrification and renewable electricity agreements.
Prior to PepsiCo, I was the first sustainability manager for the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport. In this small organization, I learned on the fly how to define sustainability for an organization and what it would look like for DFW, meaning my experience stretched across the full scope of sustainability.
My time at PepsiCo and DFW provided invaluable experiences, but I was eager to work somewhere where I could drive a broader sustainability agenda. Now at KDP, I work across climate and water strategies and am helping to shape how we create meaningful impact.
How has the company’s sustainability program evolved over the years, and what are your specific priorities for 2023?
Being relatively new to KDP, I have a helpful external perspective of the company’s sustainability evolution. KDP grew heavily in the last decade, bringing together Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), Keurig and Dr Pepper Snapple Group to form the current company, Keurig Dr Pepper. The growth resulting from bringing together hot and cold beverages at scale has created a dynamic corporation and, of course, also broadened the complexity of the company’s sustainability agenda. At KDP, we focus on our greatest opportunities for impact through our Drink Well, Do Good corporate responsibility platform. This covers the areas of the environment, our supply chain, the health and well-being of our consumers and with our people and communities.
Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed big shifts in the ESG landscape and that continues to impact how we shape our ESG agenda, sustainability goals and progress. For background, Dr Pepper has a large fleet and operations in water-stressed areas, while GMCR has a small fleet and operations in non-water-stressed areas. To address this while satisfying evolving regulation and stakeholder demands, KDP must have a measured approach to determine how we set goals and targets that are meaningful across the company. While there is temptation to be overly ambitious and bold, KDP’s approach is to stay aggressive while ensuring we have a focused plan and strategy that is executable against our goals. Only then can we measure our progress and know that our work is driving a positive impact.
Take our water stewardship efforts, for example. KDP has operations across California, Florida, Texas, and Mexico, it is essential that our business understands the impact we have on local communities. In 2023, we will continue to build on replenishment, but also account for water use across our value chain, including water quality and access to water in our highest risk water areas. I can say that water stewardship is a personal passion of mine, and there are so many moving pieces, it keeps my job challenging, fun and very interesting.
How do you feel being a BIER member will help you successfully address the key areas you are addressing in 2023?
BIER is a great opportunity to meet and build a network of people navigating similar challenges. It’s so helpful to tap into a community of people who have shared experiences but slightly different perspectives – there’s nothing like walking into a room full of people who are transparent and willing to share their unique ways of looking at the same problem. It offers a wealth of knowledge and community that is critical when you’re trying to envision the future of sustainability for your company.
Name one of the practical solutions or best practices you learned in working with BIER and its members and why it was important to you and/ or your company.
What I find to be most useful are BIER’s Benchmarking reports. BIER does a great job of breaking down information into separate categories, allowing companies to compare their performance to similar sectors. It’s game-changing to see what the industry is doing and gain insight into what performance is expected. For example, if we’re not best-in-class or if we think another company is doing better, we can use the Benchmarking reports to find out who is at the top and then have the opportunity to connect and learn more about their work. That is incredibly valuable and allows us to better identify new opportunities.
Share a recent accomplishment of your company’s sustainability initiatives/achievements you are most proud of and why.
I am proud to share we announced several new water stewardship commitments. For World Water Day in March 2022, we announced our aspiration to have a net positive water impact by 2050, which means contributing more than we take to the health of the water ecosystems we operate in. We also joined the Water Resilience Coalition, an United Nations organization that aims to elevate global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda. While we may not have all the answers on our own, the WRC connects us with like-minded peers to expand and multiply our impact.
KDP’s commitments also give me more freedom to collaborate. We work with local partners to conduct on-the-ground conservation projects that enhance watersheds, protect habitats and conserve water. This, in turn, is leading to long-term impact in watersheds that are critical to sustaining healthy ecosystems and strengthening climate resilience. And as of the end of 2021, we have replenished 85% of the water used in KDP beverages in the six highest water-risk operating communities identified in our original scope.
This level of collaboration helps us work as an industry to collectively drive the positive outcomes we want to see as opposed to competing for the same results.
If you had one superpower that could be used to radically accelerate and scale sustainable best practices, which one would it be, and how would you use it?
My superpower would be teleportation or time travel. If you look at the way companies or people react to certain situations, there is generally a strong reaction to something directly in front of them. However, if a problem doesn’t affect their day-to-day, it’s generally hard to build momentum behind it. Therefore, I’d like to teleport to different parts of the world, taking others with me to see firsthand to see the hardships others face and help change people’s perspectives. If people were more aware of how an issue is affecting communities other than their own, perhaps they would be more willing to act.
I also say time travel as many of the goals we set are 30, 40, even 50 years from completion. Time travel would allow me to take people to different eras to see the benefits of our current agendas. Or, to even inform new strategies that create even greater impact.
These superpowers would also help me be a better communicator. Sustainability communications isn’t easy and while we have many amazing people that do it, I would love to provide the proof and bring stories to life for the many stakeholders that ask for it. Through teleportation and time travel, the companies that are doing great work can become more apparent to consumers. While we don’t expect consumers to know the ins and outs of our climate mitigation strategy, we do want them to know that behaviors, action and commitments matter. We’re doing good things, we’re working on it, and collectively, we want to make a positive outcome.
BIER Publications referenced in this interview:
The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.
By BIER [crp]