Nearly One-Third of Mondelez International Shareholders Call for Action on Plastic Packaging
CONTACT: Cyrus Nemati, (510) 735-8157
OAKLAND, CA -- May 17 2018 -- Nearly a third of food and beverage giant Mondelez International’s shareholders supported a proposal by As You Sow presented at its annual meeting yesterday asking the company to set a time table to phase out non-recyclable plastic packaging, signaling strong concern that Mondelez is introducing liability to its brand through slow action toward recyclability.
The proposal was supported by more than 31% of shareholders, up from 27% last year, representing $12.4 billion of share value. Mondelez owns iconic brands including Nabisco, Cadbury chocolate, Tang beverages, and Oreo cookies, has an annual revenue of $26 billion and operates in 160 countries. A similar proposal filed by As You Sow at Starbucks garnered a 29.2% vote.
Mondelēz’s brands are increasingly packaged in flexible film or other plastic packaging, such as multi-laminate pouches (such as those used in Tang packages), that is not recyclable. Non-recyclable packaging is a significant contributor to plastic pollution which escapes into oceans and waterways at an estimated rate of up to 12 million tons per year. Making all packaging recyclable is the first step to reduce the threat posed by ocean plastic pollution, and a necessary step for Mondelez International to work toward a more sustainable product line-up.
Non-recyclable pouches of its Tang fruit drink made famous when used by American astronauts, were cited as among the most frequently collected type of waste packaging in a Philippine beach audit last fall. A 2014 UN Environment Program report estimated that the company’s use of plastic materials causes $115 million in harm a year to the environment.
“Mondelez lags peers like Unilever and Procter & Gamble who have agreed to prioritize non-recyclable packaging and phase it out on a specific timeline,” said Conrad MacKerron, Senior Vice President, As You Sow. “The company appears to be ignoring an issue that has become front-page news in its largest market, and its investors are taking notice. High shareholder votes like this indicate that investors are aware and eager for Mondelez to take more direct action in the face of its competition.”
The plastic pollution issue has exploded in recent months in Europe, Mondelez’s biggest revenue generator. The European Commission released a plastics policy strategy to require all packaging in the EC marketplace to be recyclable by 2030. The conservative UK Tory government has agreed to a national deposit system for beverage containers and is considering taxing take out containers. UK retailer Iceland went even further, pledging to stop using all plastic packaging by 2023. Mondelez can expect international plastic pollution regulations, especially in developing markets where it plans future growth, to require more responsibility from companies to ensure that packaging is recyclable and actually gets recycled.
As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. See our resolutions here.