Dunkin Brands: Request for Report on Recyclable Packaging

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WHEREAS: Discarded food service packaging is a source of avoidable waste, 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. Landfilled paper packaging creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Only a negligible amount of food service packaging is recycled. The value of recyclable packaging in the U.S. that is wasted is estimated at $11 billion annually. 

Plastic packaging waste is a large component of marine debris. In the marine environment, plastics break down into small indigestible particles that birds and marine mammals mistake for food, resulting in impairment and death. Most of the debris found on beaches is plastic packaging or containers like polystyrene foam coffee cups, lids, food wrappers, utensils, and straws. Environmental Protection Agency studies suggest a synergistic effect between plastic debris and persistent toxic chemicals in waterways. Plastic particles absorb toxics such as dioxins from water and can transfer them to the marine food web and potentially to human diets. If no actions are taken, oceans are expected to contain more plastic than fish by 2050. 

Despite a pledge to phase out polystyrene foam hot beverage cups, Dunkin’ Donuts continues to use them. Foam cups may pose a higher risk to marine biota than other plastics due to their hazardous constituent chemicals and ability to accumulate high concentrations of water borne toxins in a relatively short period of time. Our company has identified waste management as an important material issue, yet it does not routinely provide recycling bins for foam cups at its restaurants, nor does it have goals or timelines for recycling food and beverage packaging, boosting recycled content in cups, or for materials source reduction through promotion of reusable beverage containers.  

The company lags its competitors on recycling and reuse. Starbucks has committed to recycle all paper and plastic cups left in its stores, has recycled content in its cups, has set a reusable container servings goal, and offers a discount for customers who bring in reusable beverage containers. McDonald’s has completed phase out of foam cups in the U.S. and pledged to reduce waste, including packaging, by 50% in top markets by 2020. 

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

SUPPORTING STATEMENT: The report should include substantive, detailed discussion of ways to develop aggressive recycling or composting goals for food service packaging (on-site and to-go), container reuse goals, 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

Lead Filer: 
As You Sow

Year: 2017

Filing Date: 
December 2016

Initiative(s): Consumer Packaging

Status: Withdrawn; Company will address

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