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DENVER – A shareholder proposal aimed at getting Amazon.com, Inc. to reduce its significant plastic footprint did not garner the necessary votes to pass at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday. The proposal did earn a notable 35 percent of the vote. This comes just weeks after Environment America Research & Policy Center, PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs sent 59,000 petitions and a letter signed by more than 40 state lawmakers urging Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods to commit to a comprehensive plan for phasing out single-use plastic packaging from its stores.
“Whales, sea turtles, birds and all of America’s wildlife deserve better than choking on, and starving from, plastics,” said Kelsey Lamp, Protect Our Oceans campaign director for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Single-use plastics might be convenient for a few minutes, but they foul our planet for centuries, and Amazon and Whole Foods should show leadership on this issue by getting rid of these plastics.”
The call on Amazon and, in particular, its Whole Foods Market chain to reduce its reliance on single-use plastics is much-needed. Amazon does not disclose metrics on its plastic use to investors, but the non-profit Oceana estimates that the company generated 465 million metric tons of plastic from its e-commerce operations alone in 2019. As for Whole Foods, the high-profile supermarket earned a failing grade and fell behind such competitors as Costco and Walmart when it came to tackling plastic waste, according to a report from As You Sow, a nonprofit organization.
As You Sow was the lead filer of the proposal and Green Century Capital Management° was the co-filer. Green Century, Environment America Research & Policy Center, PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs are all members of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.
“We are pleased that 35 percent of Amazon investors want the company to properly address plastic waste, but that’s just not enough,” said Alex Truelove, Zero Waste campaign director for PIRG Education Fund. “This vote represents a sad reminder that too many people prioritize expediency over the future of our planet. We plan to continue to press Amazon’s and Whole Foods’ management to step up and make concrete commitments to addressing their significant contribution to plastic pollution.”
In 2019, Amazon India made a commitment to move away from single-use plastics in its e-commerce activities. The company achieved its goal in less than ten months, demonstrating the feasibility of taking similar actions across the rest of its operations.
°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the United States. Green Century Capital Management hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of March 31, 2021, Amazon.com, Inc. comprised 0.00%, 0.00%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
The percentage in favor was calculated by (i) dividing the number of votes in support of the proposal by (ii) the sum of the number of votes voted in support of and against the proposal. Abstentions and broker non-votes were not included in the calculation.
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