AMAZON.COM, INC. | Sustainable Packaging Policies for Plastics

Further information on a collaboration related to this resolution can be found on the collaboration page Shareholder resolution on plastics at Amazon
AGM date
Previous AGM date
Proposal number
8
Resolution details
Company ticker
AMZN
Lead filer
Co-filers
Resolution ask
Report on or disclose
ESG theme
  • Environment
ESG sub-theme
  • Waste and pollution
Company sector
Consumer Discretionary
Company HQ country
United States
Supporting materials
Resolved clause
Shareholders request that the Amazon Board issue a report, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, describing how the company could reduce its plastics use in alignment with the 1/3 reduction findings of the Pew Report, or other authoritative sources, to reduce the majority of ocean pollution.
Whereas clause
The report should, at Board discretion:
• Quantify the weight of total plastic packaging used by the company;
• Evaluate the benefits of dramatically reducing the amount of plastics used in our packaging;
• Assess the reputational, financial, and operational risks associated with continuing to use substantial amounts of plastic packaging while plastic pollution grows unabated;
• Describe any necessary reduction strategies or goals, materials redesign, transition to reusables, substitution, or reductions in use of virgin plastic.
Supporting statement
The growing plastic pollution crisis poses increasing risks to our company. Corporations could face an annual financial risk of approximately $100 billion should governments require them to cover the waste management costs of the packaging they produce, a policy that is increasingly being enacted around the globe.

Recently, Pew Charitable Trusts released a groundbreaking study, Breaking the Plastic Wave, concluding that if all current industry and government commitments were met, ocean plastic deposition would be reduced by only 7%. Without immediate and sustained new commitments throughout the plastics value chain, annual flows of plastics into oceans could nearly triple by 2040.

The Pew report also finds that improved recycling must be coupled with reductions in use, materials redesign, and substitution. It concludes that plastic demand should be reduced by least 1/3, stating that reducing plastic production is the most attractive solution from environmental, economic, and social perspectives. The European Union has banned 10 single-use plastic products commonly found in ocean cleanups and enacted a $1/kg tax on non-recycled plastic packaging waste.

Amazon does not disclose how much plastic packaging it uses, but is believed to be one of the largest corporate users of flexible plastic packaging, which cannot be effectively recycled. A recent report by Oceana estimated that Amazon generated 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2019 and that up to 22 million pounds of its plastic packaging waste entered the world’s marine ecosystems. Flexible packaging represents 59% of all plastic production but an outsized 80% of plastic leaking into oceans. Amazon has no goal to make all of its packaging recyclable.

Amazon is falling behind its peers. Unilever has taken the most significant corporate action to date, agreeing to cut virgin plastic packaging by 50% by 2025, including absolute elimination of 100,000 tons. At least seventeen other public consumer goods companies have virgin plastic reduction goals. IKEA pledges to eliminate all plastic packaging by 2028.

Reducing Amazon’s plastic packaging use and making all its packaging recyclable are necessary steps to combat the plastic pollution crisis. Our company is long overdue on taking action on this important issue.

How other organisations have declared their voting intentions

Organisation name Declared voting intentions Rationale
EFG Asset Management For In its proxy statement and on its website, Amazon discusses a number of initiatives it has undertaken to work with vendors to design packaging that uses less plastics or is more recyclable. It has apparently designed more recyclable mailers and has worked to reduce plastics use in its retail stores. It has started a plastic film recycling program and has donated to the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund to improve recycling infrastructure.

While the company discusses the impact in terms of plastic waste reduction, it does not provide an overall baseline amount of plastic used throughout its supply chain. Although the company disputes Oceana s claims regarding Amazon s plastic use, it does not provide competing data that allows investors to assess its progress. It has not joined the Ellen Macarthur Foundation initiative that appears to be a leading collaboration for reducing single-use plastic waste. Several of the company's peers have announced goals specifically around single-use plastic reduction.

Concern over the environmental damage caused by plastics is rising and regulations are likely to go into force in a number of jurisdictions that would limit the amount of single-use plastic packaging that can be used. Such additional disclosure as is being requested by the proponent would help shareholders gauge whether the company is appropriately managing risks related to the creation of plastic waste. As such, this shareholder resolution warrants support.
Comgest For In our view, additional disclosures on the company’s plastics use, especially regarding packaging, is key to keep track of the company’s commitments and assess progress in terms of waste reduction.
ACTIAM For ACTIAM is a co-filer of this resolution. Although Amazon has taken some steps to reduce its use of materials like plastic, ACTIAM believes that shareholders would benefit from enhanced disclosure to enable the setting of more ambitious targets.