Environmental Management - Recycling and Waste

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Sustainvest went back to Dunkin’ Brands Group with a resolution that earned 13.9 percent last year, asking for an assessment of “the environmental impacts of continuing to use K-Cup Pods brand packaging.” The company successfully challenged it at the SEC, as discussed below.

Proposals from As You Sow are resubmissions, asking three companies to report, “assessing the environmental impacts of continuing to use non-recyclable brand packaging.” It is pending at Kraft Heinz, where it earned 13.1 percent last year, Kroger (24 percent last year down from 26 percent and 32 percent the two previous years) and Mondelez International (about 27 percent in 2017 and 2016).

McDonald’s announced it would phase out its use of polystyrene by the end of 2018, giving As You Sow a long-sought victory and prompting a withdrawal; this resolution last year earned 32.3 percent support and asked for a report “assessing the environmental impacts of continued use of polystyrene foam-based food service ware, including quantifying the amount that could reach the environment, and assessing the potential for increased risk of adverse health effects to marine animals and humans.”

At Starbucks, the goal is similar, seeking a report “fulfilling [the company’s] environmental leadership commitments by scaling up efforts through a comprehensive policy on sustainable packaging.” The proposal is new; earlier resolutions to Starbucks about recycling goals earned 8 percent and 11 percent in 2010 and 2011.

Food waste:
Last year, Trillium Asset Management earned 30.3 percent for a food waste reporting proposition at Whole Foods, and Green Century has gone back with a similar resolution to that company’s new owner, Amazon.com. It asks for a report “on company-wide efforts to assess, reduce and optimally manage food waste” and the company has challenged it at the SEC.

SEC action:
Two challenges invoke Staff Legal Bulletin 14I:

  • Dunkin’ Brands is arguing that the K-Cup proposal is not significantly related to its business, is moot since the company already discusses K-Cups in its sustainability report and misleading as it relates to a specific product. In 2017, the SEC disagreed with similar arguments. The commission has yet to respond this year.
  • Amazon.com is arguing food waste is not significantly related to its business and concerns ordinary business, noting its board considered the proposal and concurs with this view.

Advocacy Position: Big Commitment From McDonald's and Dunkin' on Plastics Pollution