Amazon.com Inc.: Request for Report on Electronic Waste
WHEREAS: Amazon.com Inc. is one of the largest retailers of consumer electronics with annual sales of $25 billion, and such devices contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, polyvinyl chloride, and are difficult to recycle.
Less than half of discarded electronics are collected for recycling, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Electronic waste is the fastest growing and most hazardous component of the municipal waste stream, with more than two million tons ready for end-of-life management annually.
Improper disposal of electronics can result in serious public health and environmental impacts. Analog TV sets and monitors with cathode ray tubes contain large amounts of lead, flat screen monitors contain mercury switches, and computer batteries contain cadmium, which can be harmful to human health if released to the environment.
The company offers recycling for its Kindle and Fire brands, but not for myriad other kinds of electronics it sells. The company website says “we're constantly looking for ways to further reduce our environmental impact,” but provides no option for consumers who have end-of-life electronics to safely and conveniently recycle them through Amazon.com.
By contrast Dell Inc., another large online electronics retailer, provides shipping labels and offers free recycling for all products it sells. Also, anyone may also drop off any brand of computer equipment at more than 2,000 Goodwill stores. Electronics retailer Best Buy takes back a wide variety of electronics for free. Best Buy, Dell and other responsible electronics retailers are collecting trash generated by Amazon and others and absorbing the processing cost. Best Buy has recycled 300 million pounds of electronics in the last three years. The proponent believes that since the company is one of the U.S. largest retailers of consumer electronics, it should provide a take back program as well.
Once collected, electronics are often shipped to developing countries where they can endanger human health and the environment. News reports from China and parts of Africa have revealed that thousands of workers break apart and process old electronic equipment under appalling conditions. The proponent believes electronics collected by our company should be recycled or refurbished by responsible electronics recyclers who are independently verified to meet a leading certification standard such as the e-Stewards standard. Better recycling and reclamation of metals could also take pressure off of conflict mineral zones where mining takes place under inhumane and forced labor conditions.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that Amazon.com’s Board of Directors prepare a report, at reasonable cost and excluding confidential information, on the company's policy options to reduce potential pollution and public health problems from electronic waste generated as a result of its sales to consumers, and to increase the safe recycling of such wastes.
Supporting statement: The proponent believes such a report should consider, but not necessarily be limited to, support for internal or external strategies to facilitate effective management of consumers' electronic wastes and to prevent improper export of hazardous electronic waste.