Road to Fusion 2011: The Pepsi Dream Machine

PepsiCo is pulling all the stops to promote its Dream Machine. A spoof short with actor Aisha Tyler of CSI fame (view the video at, a Facebook page and YouTube presence are just a few of the tactics that the beverage giant hopes will boost participation in its recycling initiative.

Dream Machine is the focus of a multi-year collaboration between PepsiCo, Waste Management, Keep America Beautiful and Greenopolis. The interactive kiosk allows consumers to recycle their pop bottles and cans, and then earn various rewards like discounted products and movie tickets. In shopping centers, the kiosks also display tenants’ offers and event information.
On Day Two of the ICSC Fusion Conference, delegates will have a chance to learn more about the Dream Machine. It will be one of the case studies presented during a session entitled, “Reduce Operating Costs and Still Provide a Unique Customer Experience.” Delivering the goods will be speakers Dan Rose, director of commercial property management (Midwest Group) for Waste Management, Inc.; Beth Sauerhaft, senior manager for environmental stewardship at PepsiCo; and The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes team members Wendy Thompson (GM) and Jennie Zafft (marketing director).

Last fall, PepsiCo marked the launch of its CSR initiative with a $500,000 donation to the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), a national program that offers career training, education and job creation to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities. The company intends to make that an annual contribution, and it has also pledged to donate an additional $250,000 to EBV for every 10 million pounds of recycled material it collects in Dream Machine kiosks and static bins, with the ultimate goal of increasing the U.S. beverage container recycling rate from 34 percent to 50 percent by 2018.

Despite the positive PR that it has enjoyed, the Dream Machine couldn’t avoid creating a bit of controversy, with sustainability watchdogs arguing that the cost of producing and running the interactive kiosks might offset the recycling benefits. They also claim that the promise of receiving rewards will only create more demand for the products—that would no doubt be just fine with PepsiCo.
Maybe the solution would be to encourage consumers to stop using those bottles and cans altogether. Instead, an entrepreneurial mind could invent reusable pop mugs. Before you know it, you could be seeing people line up at a movie theater’s concession stand to order their personal, medium, caffeine-free, half-sweet, no-ice Pepsi. Stranger things have happened.

Myriam Beaugé, Editor in Chief, Tactics Magazine

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