Business

Shareholder Calls on Amazon to Reduce Plastic Packaging to Combat Pollution Crisis

Published by
Matthew Martins
  • As You Sow calls on Amazon to reduce plastic packaging to combat the pollution crisis.
  • The nonprofit shareholder advocacy organization urges Amazon to issue a report on aligning plastic use with recommendations to decrease ocean plastic pollution.
  • Amazon’s failure to address plastic pollution concerns exposes the company to financial, regulatory, and reputational risks, while its competitors have already taken steps to combat plastic pollution.

As You Sow, a nonprofit shareholder advocacy organization, has submitted a Notice of Exempt Solicitation to Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), urging the company to issue a report on reducing its use of plastic packaging. The move comes in response to the growing plastic pollution crisis and the need for corporate accountability in addressing this urgent environmental issue.

The resolution, titled “Report on Packaging Materials and Opportunities to Reduce Plastic in Packaging,” requests that Amazon’s Board of Directors provide a detailed report on how the company can align its plastic use with the recommendations outlined in the Breaking the Plastic Wave report. This report emphasizes the importance of reducing plastic production by at least one-third to significantly decrease ocean plastic pollution.

Among the key points outlined in the resolution are the quantification of the weight of total plastic packaging used by Amazon, an evaluation of the benefits of reducing plastic packaging, an assessment of the associated risks, and a description of planned reduction strategies or goals. The report is expected to exclude proprietary information but offer transparency in addressing these crucial concerns.

The plastic pollution crisis has gained significant attention worldwide, with governments, businesses, and citizens recognizing the urgent need for action. The Breaking the Plastic Wave report warns that without immediate and sustained commitments from all stakeholders, annual flows of plastics into oceans could nearly triple by 2040. The report also highlights the importance of combining improved recycling with reductions in plastic use, materials redesign, and substitution.

As You Sow argues that Amazon’s failure to address the concerns of nearly 50% of its investors regarding plastic pollution exposes the company to financial, regulatory, and reputational risks. The organization cites Amazon’s lack of disclosure regarding the total amount of plastic packaging used and its failure to set substantial reduction goals. Additionally, the company has not aligned its packaging targets with key initiatives such as the Pew Report and the Global Commitment.

Amazon’s peers have already taken significant steps to combat plastic pollution. Unilever, for example, has committed to cutting its virgin plastic packaging by half by 2025, eliminating 100,000 tons. Other consumer goods companies, including Walmart and Target, have also set goals to reduce their use of virgin plastic. Amazon’s lack of comparable action places it behind its competitors and raises concerns about the company’s sustainability practices.

This proposal has garnered substantial support, with 35% of shares voted in favor in 2021, and in the following year, receiving support from 48.9% of overall investors and 59.3% of independent investors.

The plastic pollution crisis poses significant risks not only to the environment but also to companies themselves. Governments worldwide are increasingly enacting policies that hold corporations financially responsible for waste management costs associated with their packaging. The financial risk for corporations could amount to approximately $100 billion annually. Furthermore, plastic pollution has dire consequences for marine ecosystems, with more than 800 marine species affected and significant damage to fragile habitats.

Matthew Martins

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Published by
Matthew Martins

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