35% of Amazon shareholders support proposal calling for cuts in single-use plastic

35% of Amazon.com shareholders support a proposal asking the company to reduce the amount of plastics used in its operations.

The proposal, filed by As You Sow and Green Century Funds, says Amazon’s substantial and growing use of plastic packaging exposes the company to increased financial and reputational risk from the millions of tons of plastic that end up in oceans and the environment, harming wildlife and marine ecosystems.

Amazon has not disclosed how much plastic it uses. A report by environmental group, Oceana, estimates that the company used 465 million pounds of ecommerce plastic packaging in 2019, and that as much as 22 million pounds of its packaging waste was ‘mismanaged’ and ‘could have entered and polluted freshwater and marine ecosystems’.

The proposal asked the company to disclose how much of its packaging escapes to the environment, to disclose company strategies or goals to reduce use of plastic packaging, and evaluate opportunities for dramatically reducing the amount of plastics used in packaging.

“We are pleased that more than one-third of shares voted supported our request for basic disclosure of plastic generation and waste data at Amazon.com,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president at As You Sow.

We are pleased that more than one-third of shares voted supported our request for basic disclosure of plastic generation and waste data at Amazon.com

“This is an especially encouraging result for the first year that a proposal is presented. We know from experience that management pays special attention to votes exceeding 20% as they tend to reflect not only the support of progressive ESG investors but mainstream investors who want to limit reputational risk to the company.”

Breaking the Plastic Wave, a recent comprehensive report from Pew Charitable Trusts calls on consumer goods companies to cut plastic demand by one-third through elimination, reuse, refill, and new delivery systems — one of eight simultaneous interventions required to reduce ocean plastic deposition 80% by 2040.

Five global companies who received the same proposal from As You Sow as Amazon have agreed to reduce use of virgin plastic. Keurig Dr Pepper will cut use of virgin plastic 20% by 2025. Mondelez committed to a 5% absolute reduction in virgin plastic, including a 25% cut in virgin plastic in its rigid plastic packaging. PepsiCo, Target, and Walmart agreed to cuts that are still being finalised and will be disclosed later this year.

An estimated 11 million metric tonnes of plastics leak into oceans annually and this figure is expected to grow to 24 million metric tons by 2040, according to Breaking the Plastic Wave, unless ‘a range of drastic remedial actions are taken’, As You Sow says.

As You Sow is a nonprofit organisation that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building and innovative legal strategies.


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