Amazon shareholders vote on resolution to require the company to address its colossal plastic problem
Resolution follows 2021 version which received support from more than 1/3 of shareholders. Oceana campaign, featuring ocean animals, asks AMZN investors, executives, and employees for “less plastic, please.”
Press Release Date: May 19, 2022
Location: Washington, DC
On May 25 at Amazon’s Annual Meeting, shareholders will vote on a resolution that, if passed, would require the e-commerce giant to issue a report describing how the company could reduce its plastic packaging use and contribution to plastic pollution. The report would also quantify the amount of plastic packaging used by the company. 35.5% of Amazon’s shareholders supported a similar resolution last year. Oceana, the world’s largest ocean advocacy organization, is calling on shareholders to vote “yes” on Item 8. The resolution was filed by the group As You Sow.
According to a 2021 Oceana report, Amazon – the largest retailer in the world outside of China – generated 599 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2020, a 29% increase over Oceana’s 2019 estimate, referenced in the shareholder proposal. Studies have estimated that for species, 55% percent of sea birds, 70% of marine mammals, and 100% of sea turtles have ingested or become entangled in plastic and have found that plastic film, the type of plastic used by Amazon, is one of the deadliest forms of plastic for marine life. Moreover, plastic film is extremely difficult to recycle and is not accepted at most curbside recycling programs in the U.S., the UK, and other large markets for the company.
Amazon, which is asking shareholders to vote against the proposal (and disputes Oceana’s estimates) does not currently report on its plastic footprint and has not responded to multiple requests by Oceana to share its data. Additionally, the company has not committed to specific reduction goals for its overall plastic packaging use. Without this information, investors cannot assess their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risk exposure on the very significant global issue of plastic pollution. This resolution reflects growing concern about the company’s plastic footprint, increased regulatory and ESG pressure for plastic pollution, and the growing need to formally address the plastic pollution crisis.
Oceana’s Senior Vice President Matt Littlejohn says, “This is a prime opportunity for shareholders to have Amazon do right by its customers and the planet. Pressure is mounting as more investors learn about the company’s plastic problem and more customers call for plastic-free alternatives. Amazon’s plastic packaging generates a massive amount of waste and plastic pollution is devastating the world’s oceans. Voting in favor of this resolution is voting to help save the oceans and marine life.”
In advance of this year’s meeting, Oceana sent a letter to Amazon shareholders outlining the five reasons to support the resolution. Additionally, Oceana is campaigning on the ground at Amazon’s HQ 1 and HQ 2 in Seattle and Arlington, VA to win support for the resolution (from Amazon headquarters employees who are also shareholders). The campaign features photos of ocean animals eating or being covered by ocean plastic along with the headline “AMZN: Less plastic, please.” This effort includes canvassers, mobile billboards, 1,000-yard signs, and 500 posters (as well as a LinkedIn campaign). Oceana has created a dedicated website for the endeavor: www.amazoniansfortheoceans.com
Oceana is also rallying support for the resolution from Signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Many of the institutional investors owning Amazon shares are members of the PRI and have pledged to seek disclosure on ESG issues by the companies they invest in. Oceana is calling on these investors to honor their commitment to the PRI and vote in favor of the resolution, which would seek such disclosure on plastic pollution – an immensely important ESG issue.
“Amazon is a data-driven company known for its innovation and should become a leader in reducing plastic packaging (and in helping to save the oceans). It’s time for the company to be transparent about its data and to commit to reducing the use of single-use plastic,” added Littlejohn.
Click here for images of Oceana’s “Amzn: Less plastic, please” campaign in support of the resolution
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more