Time to Back Amazon Shareholder Resolution and End Tsunami of Plastic Pollution - Oceana

Time to Back Amazon Shareholder Resolution and End Tsunami of Plastic Pollution

Oceana calls on Jeff Bezos, Amazon (AMZN) insiders, and investors: Vote YES to Item 22, Say NO to Plastic Waste

Press Release Date: April 19, 2023

Location: Washington, DC

Contact:

Gillian Spolarich, Anna Baxter | email: gspolarich@oceana.org, abaxter@oceana.org
202-467-1909, Anna Baxter

Oceana is calling on Amazon shareholders to protect the oceans by supporting a resolution that asks the company to develop a plan for reducing its growing plastic packaging footprint. The resolution will be voted on for the third year in a row at Amazon’s annual meeting on May 24. In 2022, support for the proposal increased by over ten percentage points from the previous year – securing 48.9% of the vote. The measure would have passed if company insiders had supported the resolution. Amazon’s plastic packaging waste grew by 52.5% from 2019 to 2021, according to recent reports from Oceana. 

Amazon’s top investors urged to back the resolution

Oceana is asking Amazon’s leading shareholders, including former CEO Jeff Bezos, to support the resolution in May 2023. Bezos owns roughly 10% of the company and has an outsized impact on the outcome of the vote. Oceana is also calling on institutional investors – such as Vanguard, Blackrock, and Fidelity – to support the resolution. 

Voting in favor of the resolution is in line with the United Nations Finance Initiative’s Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Several of the institutional investors owning Amazon shares are Signatories of the PRI and have pledged to seek disclosure on ESG issues by the companies they invest in. Despite this pledge, at least 26 PRI signatories voted against the resolution last year that asked Amazon to disclose its plastic packaging footprint.  

Amazon’s competitors are disclosing plastic packaging use

Walmart and Target report annually on their plastic packaging use as Signatories to the Global Commitment. In 2023, companies will also be requested to disclose on plastics for the first time through the CDP’s water security questionnaire

Amazon took a step towards greater transparency last December when the company disclosed the amount of plastic packaging it uses for orders sent through Amazon’s fulfillment centers. This figure did not include packaging used for orders sent through third-party sellers. The company has yet to disclose its total plastic packaging footprint, nor to commit to regular disclosures going forward, which is the best way that shareholders can evaluate the company’s progress in reducing the impact of its plastic packaging on the environment. Amazon has also yet to make a global commitment to reduce its use of plastic packaging. Amazon has already eliminated plastic bags and/or plastic air pillows and bubble wrap in India, Europe, Australia, and Japan. Equivalent action on the issue has been missing in the United States – Amazon’s largest market. 

Oceana’s Senior Vice President Matt Littlejohn said it’s time for Amazon to be a leader in reducing plastics: “This year’s resolution is another opportunity to end Amazon’s growing tsunami of plastic pollution. Nearly 49% of shareholder votes spoke up for the oceans last year. We can’t stop now. It’s clear that investors need to push the company to take action on disclosing and reducing its global plastic packaging footprint. We urge all investors to rally against plastic pollution. Together we can protect the oceans and our planet from Amazon’s devastating impacts.”

Institutional Investors are asked to declare their voting intention for the Amazon shareholder resolution on plastic packaging through the PRI’s collaboration platform. The resolution will be voted on as Item 22 at Amazon’s annual meeting on May 24, 2023.

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-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, 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 Oceana.org to learn more.

Notes to Editor:

A shareholder resolution on plastic packaging filed by non-profit As You Sow was first voted on at Amazon’s annual meeting in 2021, receiving 35.5% of the vote. In 2022, the resolution received 48.9% of the vote. In both years and again in 2023, the resolution asks Amazon’s Board to issue a report disclosing how much plastic packaging the company uses, and outlining a plan for how its use of plastic packaging can be reduced.