Progress on Packaging Waste

Product packaging needs to be re-thought to produce zero waste.

Product packaging needs to be re-thought to produce zero waste.

As You Sow is pleased to report progress in both beverage container recycling and consumer packaged goods. After two years of engagement with Starbucks, we have decided not to re-file a shareholder resolution in 2012 due to their commitment to recycle all in-store paper cups by 2015. We will now shift our focus to urge McDonald’s and Yum! Brands to match Starbucks’ cup commitments with the goal of increased volume of cups recycled and to help create industry-wide change.

As we announced this spring, As You Sow’s newest program presses consumer products companies to take responsibility for post-consumer packaging waste, with the added goals of reducing packaging and eliminating ocean debris. Our work with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies is based on the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which shifts accountability from taxpayers and government to producers. EPR programs in Canada and 27 European countries has diverted millions of tons of plastic, metal, glass and paper away from landfills into recycling streams.

To reach these goals in the U.S., we have expanded our work with beverage and electronics companies to the consumer packaged goods and grocery sectors. Earlier this year, we filed two landmark shareholder resolutions with Procter & Gamble and General Mills. These were the first ever filed on EPR and, as such, received substantial attention. Through the summer, Senior Program Director Conrad MacKerron met with both Procter & Gamble and General Mills, and negotiated a withdrawal of our proposals in exchange for detailed assessments of their views on EPR and continued good faith engagement.

In 2012, we look forward to continuing these dialogues and beginning new ones with Kraft Foods, Unilever, and grocery companies such as Kroger, Safeway, Supervalu, Whole Foods, and Walmart.

Image: Flickr/PawPaw67