Mondelēz International

Asserting that unrecyclable packaging wastes resources and contributes to the growing pollution of world oceans, our 2014 shareholder resolution asking Mondelez International to assess the risks on unrecyclable brand packaging received 28.4% shareholder support representing $11.8 billion worth of shares at the food manufacturer’s annual meeting. Using unrecyclable packaging when alternatives are available leads to increased use of virgin materials and wastes enormous amounts of valuable resources that could be reused many times over.

Read our press release

In October 2012, Kraft changed its name to Mondelez International (MDLZ), and spun off its grocery business to a new company called Kraft Foods Group (KRFT). Mondelez retains the snack food part of the business. As You Sow re-filed an extended producer responsibility (EPR) proposal with Mondelez for 2013, receiving a vote result of 9.5%, which maintains pressure on the company while allowing us the option to file the proposal again if necessary.

oreo pouchesWatch our new video Designed to be Waste to learn more about the issue of unrecyclable laminate/aluminum foil pouches.

Many Mondelez products, including family favorites like Oreo cookies, are packaged in thin, unrecyclable plastic film, when they could easily be sold in cardboard packaging. In our new video Designed to Be Waste, Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Institute, notes that the most common microplastics found in ocean debris are thin plastic films like those used to package Oreo cookies.

Another concern is the growing trend of companies using pouches made of aluminum foil/plastic laminate to package cookies, juices, and other foods and snacks. This packaging cannot be recycled into new pouches and is rarely collected for any kind of post-consumer recovery. Mondelez sells many products in these pouches, including bite-size Mini Oreos and Mini Chips Ahoy! cookies. Shareholders should be concerned that the company is selling packaging that is designed to be dumped in a landfill. There is no reason to be marketing unrecyclable packaging to kids and families when better alternatives have been on the market for decades.

On the issue of responsibility for recycling post-consumer packaging, Mondelez lags its peers. While no major consumer products company has yet embraced EPR for packaging in the United States, some competitors have taken encouraging initial steps. Unilever has acknowledged some responsibility for increasing packaging recycling rates. It made a public commitment to increase recycling rates for packaging it uses in 14 major countries (including the U.S.) where it does business 5% by 2015 and 20% by 2020. We’d like to see Mondelez match or exceed that commitment.

As demonstrated by Colgate’s announcement that they are transitioning to 100% recyclable packaging for three of four product divisions by 2020, companies can work with investors to create better packaging and improve their environmental impact. Investors recognize the risk to Mondelez’s brand posed by its throwaway packaging, and they want Mondelez to act to develop recyclable alternatives.

Read more about our engagements with Mondelez below.

Consumer Packaging 2018

STATUS: pending

WHEREAS: Mondelēz International’s environmental policy states the company “is committed to reducing the environmental impact of our activities, preventing pollution and promoting the sustainability of the natural resources upon which we depend…” yet a significant amount of brand product packaging is not recyclable and new studies suggest plastic packaging that degrades in waterways is toxic to marine animals and potentially to humans. The environmental cost to society of consumer plastic products exceeds $139 billion annually, according to the American Chemistry Council. Mondelēz’s use of plastic materials incurs an estimated $115 million in annual environmental costs. Our iconic brands like Oreo and Chips Ahoy are increasingly packaged in flexible film or other plastic packaging, such as pouches, that are not recyclable. A September 2017 cleanup of plastic waste in Manila Bay found pouches from our product Tang to be among the most frequently found waste packaging. Using non-recyclable packaging when recyclable alternatives are available wastes valuable resources and contributes to plastic pollution. Only 14% of plastic packaging is recycled. Billions of discarded plastic wrappers and pouches representing significant amounts of embedded energy are incinerated or lie buried in landfills. These products could be sold in recyclable packaging. Non-recyclable packaging is more likely to be littered and carried into waterways. In the marine environment, plastics break down into small indigestible particles that birds and marine mammals mistake for food, resulting in illness and death. An assessment of marine debris by the Global Environment Facility concluded that an underlying cause of debris entering oceans is “design and marketing of products internationally without appropriate regard to their environmental fate or ability to be recycled in the locations where sold…” If no actions are taken, oceans are expected to contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Scientific studies suggest a synergistic effect between persistent toxic chemicals and plastic debris. Plastics absorb toxics such as dioxins from water and transfer them to the marine food web and potentially to human diets, increasing the risk of adverse effects to wildlife and humans. Making all packaging recyclable to the extent possible is the first step to reduce the threat posed by plastic debris in waterways. Colgate-Palmolive, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Walmart have set public packaging recyclability goals. Companies who aspire to corporate sustainability yet use these risky materials should explain why they use so much non-recyclable packaging. Companies should also work with recyclers and municipalities to assure that more recyclable packaging actually gets recycled. BE IT RESOLVED THAT: Shareowners of Mondelēz International request the Board to issue a report at reasonable cost, omitting confidential information, assessing the environmental impacts of continuing to use non-recyclable brand packaging. SUPPORTING STATEMENT: Proponents believe the report should include an assessment of the reputational, financial, and operational risks associated with continuing to use non-recyclable brand packaging, discuss investments in packaging recycling technologies, and to the extent possible, goals and a timeline to phase out non-recyclable packaging.          

Filing Documents

Related 2018 Engagements

Consumer Packaging 2017

STATUS: 27.5%

RESOLVED: Shareowners of Mondelēz International request the Board to issue a report at reasonable cost, omitting confidential information, assessing the environmental impacts of continuing to use non-recyclable brand packaging.

Filing Documents

Related 2017 Engagements

Consumer Packaging 2016

STATUS: 26.7%

BE IT RESOLVED: Shareowners of Mondelez International request the Board to issue a report at reasonable cost, omitting confidential information, by October 1, 2016 assessing the environmental impacts of continuing to use non-recyclable brand packaging.

Filing Documents

Related 2016 Engagements

Nanomaterials 2016

STATUS: Blocked by Company at SEC

BE IT RESOLVED: Shareholders request the Board publish, by October 2016, at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, a report on Mondelez’ use of nanomaterials, including describing the products or packaging that currently contain nanoparticles, why nanoparticles are being used, and actions management is taking to reduce or eliminate the risk nanoparticles may pose to human health and the environment, including eliminating the use of nanomaterials until or unless they are proven safe through long-term testing.

Filing Documents

Press

Related 2016 Engagements

Consumer Packaging 2015

STATUS: 27.9%

BE IT RESOLVED: Shareowners of Mondelez International request the Board to issue a report, at reasonable cost, omitting confidential information, by October 1, 2015, assessing the environmental impacts of continuing to use non-recyclable brand packaging.

Filing Documents

Related 2015 Engagements

Consumer Packaging 2014

STATUS: 28.4%

Shareowners of Mondelez International request the Board to issue a report at reasonable cost, omitting confidential information, by October 1, 2014 assessing the environmental impacts of continuing to use non-recyclable brand packaging.

Filing Documents

Press

Related 2014 Engagements

Consumer Packaging 2013

STATUS: 09.5%

Product packaging is a major source of waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and a significant consumer of natural resources and energy. More than half of U.S. product packaging is discarded in landfills or burned rather than recycled. Only 12% of plastic packaging is recycled.

Filing Documents

Related 2013 Engagements