Dunkin Brands Group: Request for Report on Recyclable Packaging

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WHEREAS: Discarded food service and product packaging is a source of waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a significant consumer of natural resources and energy, and implicated in impairment and death of marine animals. About half of U.S. product packaging is discarded rather than recycled. Recyclable paper packaging creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas, when dumped in landfills. Only a negligible amount of food service packaging is recycled. Just 14% of all plastic packaging is recycled. The value of wasted packaging is estimated at $11 billion annually. 

Packaging waste is a large component of marine debris. Nine of the top 10 reported beach debris items are packaging or containers: caps/lids, plastic bags, food wrappers, plastic utensils, plastic straws, paper bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles, and metal cans. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency suggest a synergistic effect between plastic debris and persistent, bio-accumulative, toxic chemicals in the marine environment. Plastics absorb toxics such as polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins from water or sediment and transfer them to the marine food web and potentially to human diets. Ingestion of plastics by marine animals can compromise their ability to capture and digest food, sense hunger, escape from predators, and reproduce; sometimes it is fatal.  

Recycling of food service packaging could cut emissions of GHGs and reduce the volume of materials that ends up as ocean debris. Increased recycling can also reduce reliance on virgin raw materials, make more materials available to provide recycled content in new packaging, and reduce energy usage.  

Dunkin’ Donuts does not routinely provide recycling or composting bins for consumers at its restaurants, nor does it have a packaging recycling policy with stated goals or a timeline for collecting and recycling the containers in which its food and beverages are sold. The company does not have goals for boosting recycled content in packaging or for source reduction through promotion of reusable containers. 

The company lags it competitors. Starbucks committed to recycle all paper and plastic cups left in its cafes by 2015, has recycled content in its cups and offers a discount for customers who provide reusable beverage containers. McDonald’s has pledged to reduce waste, including packaging, by 50% in top markets by 2020. 

BE IT RESOLVED THAT: Shareowners of Dunkin’ Brands request the board of directors to prepare a report on the feasibility of developing a comprehensive recycling policy for on-site food and beverage packaging to conserve resources, and reduce water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2016. The report, to be prepared at reasonable cost, may omit confidential information. 

The report should include discussion of adopting aggressive recycling and composting goals for on-site food service packaging (front and back of house) and recycled content goals for packaging. We believe the requested report is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. Leadership in this area will protect our brand and enhance the company’s reputation. 

Resolution Details

Dunkin Brands Group

Lead Filer: 
As You Sow

Year: 2016

Filing Date: 
December 2015

Initiative(s): Consumer Packaging

Status: Withdrawn; Company will address

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