Shareholder pressure builds on Kroger to cut plastics

posted by Marino Donati
2 July 2021

Nearly half of shareholders at US grocery chain Kroger support a cut in plastics in its operations.

Forty-five percent of shareholders, representing shares worth $10.2bn, supported a proposal at Kroger’s annual meeting to reduce single-use plastics and plastic packaging.

The proposal was filed by non-profit shareholder advocacy organisation As You Sow, which asked the company to disclose how much of its packaging escaped to the environment, to evaluate opportunities for dramatically reducing the amount of plastics used in packaging, and disclose company strategies to cut plastic.

Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president at As You Sow, said: “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.”

In May 35% of shareholders at Amazon supported an identical proposal, As You Sow said. It added Target Corp and Keurig Dr Pepper had agreed to cut virgin plastic by 20% by 2025. Mondelez has committed to a 5% absolute reduction, including a 25% cut in virgin plastic in its rigid plastic packaging, while PepsiCo and Walmart have agreed to cuts that are still being finalised. The companies had all received the same proposal from As You Sow.

According to As You Sow, 81% of shareholders at DuPont have supported a proposal asking the company for public reporting on spills of pre-industrial plastic pellets.

The non-profit organisation said an estimated 11m tonnes of plastics leak into oceans annually and this figure is expected to grow to 24m tonnes by 2040 unless drastic remedial action is taken.

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