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Thursday, July 11, 2024

UC Davis should not sign another Pouring Rights Contract with PepsiCo

The No. 1 most sustainable campus in the nation shouldn’t support a massive plastic polluter

 

By ASUCD ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND PLANNING COMMISSION — eppc@asucd.ucdavis.edu 

 

Despite student and faculty opposition, UC Berkeley signed another 10-year Pouring Rights Contract (PRC) with Pepsi, one of the world’s largest plastic polluters. UC Davis should not make the same mistake. UC Davis’ current PRC with Pepsi ends in summer 2024, and they’re deciding whether to sign another PRC with Pepsi or to leave the contract altogether. 

A PRC establishes a beverage monopoly on campus, enabling a single company like Pepsi to control the market, limit competition, influence industry dynamics and aggressively market to students while co-branding with UC logos. ASUCD opposes a Pepsi PRC as stated in Senate Resolutions #6 and #2. Those of us at ASUCD’s Environmental Policy and Planning Commission (EPPC) authored these resolutions, created an online petition and organized a peaceful student-led protest.

 

Why is the partnership with PepsiCo bad for UC Davis?

 

Sustainability: UC Davis is the most sustainable university in the United States while PepsiCo is the second largest plastic polluter in the world, producing over two million metric tons of plastic packaging annually. An association with PepsiCo contradicts our campus’ environmental standards. 

Another PRC with Pepsi would undermine our UC systemwide policy to eliminate single-use plastics by 2024. For the fourth year in a row, the UC system has failed to achieve this, partly due to our current PRC. Pepsi will not provide non-plastic containers for all beverages, forcing UC Davis to buy single-use plastics until 2030.

Choice: The proposed PRC would require us to exclusively sell 85% Pepsi products, preventing students and staff from accessing a variety of options, including healthier or more sustainable drink choices.

High prices: Beverage prices are high on campus (other than the Coho, which is not part of the Pepsi contract). The Pepsi PRC sets high prices and increases beverage prices with annual price escalations, which is especially concerning considering the prevalence of food insecurity among UC Davis students. 

Marketing: Our current and UC Berkeley’s new PRC with Pepsi spells out aggressive marketing to students, including Pepsi branding of wellness activities and the campus gym. We are here to receive an education, not be captive audiences to the marketing of high-sugar products that are harmful to our health.

The dwindling revenue is not worth it: The sponsorship money UC Davis receives from the current PRC amounts to less than 0.01% of the university’s total revenue. Given that UC Berkeley’s sponsorship money was cut nearly in half in the new contract, UC Davis can expect even less from the next contract. So we ask the students, faculty, staff and administrators of UC Davis: why would we allow a company with such a bad track record around health and sustainability like Pepsi to degrade our values?

We call on the chancellor, the Chancellor’s Leadership Council and the UP3 Advisory Committee to not sign another PRC with PepsiCo or any other beverage company. Instead, UC Davis should be able to purchase beverages from multiple producers, including small businesses with sustainable and ethical practices. While UC Berkeley has unfortunately signed another PRC with Pepsi, UC Davis can set a precedent for the other UCs to disengage from PRCs that undermine our values.

What can you do? Sign our petition now! Voice your opinion to the chancellor with the provided email template! 

Email: chancellor@ucdavis.edu 

 

Dear Chancellor May and the Chancellor’s Leadership Council, 

I am a concerned (student/staff member/faculty member) writing to you to express my opposition to UC Davis signing another Pouring Rights Contract with PepsiCo or any other soda company. The Pepsi contract is in contradiction to UC Davis’ sustainability objectives, and renewing it would result in UC Davis failing to comply with our own single-use plastic elimination policy for the fourth year in a row. PepsiCo is the second leading plastic producer in the world and actively lobbies against sustainability policies while primarily producing and marketing products harmful to human and planetary health. UC Davis should not support nor be in partnership with such an unethical corporation. I respectfully urge Chancellor May and the Chancellor’s Leadership Council to not renew a pouring right’s contract with PepsiCo, as it goes against our health, sustainability, and equity standards. Soda pouring rights contracts, which require the university to allow and engage in the marketing of harmful products, are in direct conflict with the university’s mission to provide academic excellence and serve the public good.

 

Sincerely, 

 

A concerned student 

[Name]

 

Written by: ASUCD EPPC — eppc@asucd.ucdavis.edu

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

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