Environmental Management - Water

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Four proposals from members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility ask about water use and safety. Two are pending for the first time at B&G Foods, a packaged foods firm, and Blue Buffalo Pet Products. It asks that B&G “adopt and implement a water stewardship policy designed to reduce the risks related to water scarcity and the impacts of operations and key supply chains on water quality,” and requests that Blue Buffalo do the same.

A resubmission asks Pilgrim’s Pride to “adopt and implement a water stewardship policy designed to reduce risks of water contamination from Pilgrim’s direct operations and supply chain.” The resolution earned 14.7 percent last year and noted the company’s record of water pollution and regulatory violations.

Investors voted on another resubmission on February 8, which asked Tyson Foods to “adopt and implement a water stewardship policy designed to reduce risks of water contamination at: Tyson-owned facilities; facilities under contract to Tyson; and Tyson’s feed suppliers.” It earned 15.8 percent, up from 14.6 percent in 2017, high votes for the closely held company.

SEC action:
Blue Buffalo is contesting the resolution at the SEC, saying it concerns ordinary business, relates to its choice of technologies, its supplier relationships and how its products are priced--without raising significant social policy issues. It cites as precedent an exclusion for 2018 at Deere about net-zero GHG goals, which invoked Staff Legal Bulletin 14I.

The SEC told Amazon.com it could omit a proposal from an individual seeking a preferential listing for water-efficient showerheads. It said, the company should “list watersense showerheads before the listing of other showerheads and provide a short description of the meaning of watersense showerheads.” But the SEC agreed with Amazon’s argument that this was ordinary business since it concerns the sale and distribution of specific products and the ways in which the company communicates with customers. (The proponent had prevailed in an earlier SEC challenge at Choice Hotels in 2013, when he asked for a report on low-flow showerheads and the SEC concluded the resolution focused on the “significant policy issue of global warming and does not seek to micromanage the company.” That resolution earned 9.8 percent support.)