After dialogue stemming from a 2012 shareholder resolution filed by As You Sow, Colgate committed to eliminate unrecyclable packaging for three of its four product categories by 2020. In addition, Colgate will work to develop a recyclable toothpaste tube. Toothpaste tubes made of plastic laminates currently cannot be recycled.
We are pressing companies on recyclability because of the enormous waste of resources represented by unrecyclable packaging, and because it’s more likely to be littered and swept into waterways. This contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans which clogs waterways and damages marine ecosystems. Recent research indicates plastic particles absorb potent toxins from water or sediment and transfer them into the marine food web.
In 2014 we filed shareholder proposals on recyclability with Mondelez, Kraft Foods, General Mills, and Procter & Gamble. The first vote on this issue was a strong one of 28.4% at Mondelez, with shares worth $11.8 billion supporting our proposal. Mondelez, formerly part of Kraft Foods, is the world’s largest snack food company, producer of brands such as Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. A related vote at Dr Pepper Snapple on bottle and can recycling goals got a solid 30% result.
Kraft and Mondelez use unrecyclable composite laminate/aluminum foil pouches, such as those used to package Kraft Capri-Sun juices, which pose another threat to the environment. There were enough Capri-Sun wrappers discarded in the U.S. alone last year to cover California and Texas. Our new video Designed to Be Waste shines a light on companies using unrecyclable packaging when better alternatives are available.
Read more about our work on unrecyclable packaging on our Consumer Packaging page.