Forty-five per cent of Kroger shareholders support proposal asking for cuts in single-use plastic
BERKELEY, CA—JUNE 29, 2021—Nearly half of Kroger shareholders supported a proposal at the largest U.S. grocery chain by revenue, asking the company to reduce the amount of single use plastic in its operations.
Forty-five percent of shareholders, representing shares worth $10.2 billion, supported the proposal filed by As You Sow, at Kroger’s annual meeting May 24. The proposal asked the company to disclose how much of its packaging escapes to the environment, disclose company strategies or goals to reduce use of plastic packaging, and evaluate opportunities for dramatically reducing the amount of plastics used in packaging.
“The results at Kroger demonstrate yet another strong show of support by investors this year challenging companies to elevate the issue of single use plastic pollution and develop credible solutions to the global plastic pollution crisis now,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow.
“Kroger has not taken basic corporate accountability actions such as disclosing the amount of plastic it uses, or made recent commitments to cut plastic use as competing retailers like Target and Walmart have done. It should act swiftly to disclose plastic usage and devise a plan to significantly reduce its reliance on single use plastics.”
Earlier this month 35% of shareholders at Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer, supported an identical As You Sow proposal. Five other global consumer goods companies who received the same proposal from As You Sow as Kroger have agreed to reduce use of virgin plastic. Target Corp. and Keurig Dr Pepper will cut virgin plastic 20% by 2025. Mondelez committed to a 5% absolute reduction, including a 25% cut in virgin plastic in its rigid plastic packaging. PepsiCo and Walmart agreed to cuts that are still being finalized and will be disclosed later this year.
In the related area of plastic pellet pollution, a record 81% of shareholders supported an As You Sow proposal at DuPont in May, asking the company for public reporting on spills of pre-industrial plastic pellets, which threaten marine life when they escape into the environment.
An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastics leak into oceans annually and this figure is expected to grow to 24 million metric tons by 2040 unless a range of drastic remedial actions are taken. Plastic particles are permeating our air, food, and water. Ocean plastic pollution causes fatalities in more than 800 marine species from ingestion, entanglement, suffocation, or drowning.
The cuts in plastic use requested by As You Sow reflect the sobering conclusions of Breaking the Plastic Wave, a recent authoritative report from Pew Charitable Trusts, which calls on consumer goods companies to cut plastic demand by one-third through elimination, reuse, refill, and new delivery systems — one of eight simultaneous interventions required to reduce ocean plastic deposition 80% by 2040.
As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Click here to use As You Sow’s shareholder resolution tracker.