Shareholders request 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 one-third reduction findings of the Pew Report, or other authoritative sources, to significantly reduce ocean plastic pollution.
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. The authoritative study, Breaking the Plastic Wave (2020), by Pew Charitable Trusts (“Pew Report”), concluded 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 one-third to cut ocean plastic pollution 80% by 2040, and that reducing plastic production is the most attractive solution from environmental, economic, and social perspectives. Countries and other major brands have committed to significant cuts in the use of virgin and single-use plastics. 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 estimates that Amazon generated 599 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2020 and up to 23.5 million pounds of this 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 its packaging recyclable.
Amazon is falling behind its peers. Unilever, with the most significant corporate action to date, agreed to cut virgin plastic packaging by half by 2025, eliminating 100,000 tons. At least seventeen other public consumer goods companies including competitors Walmart and Target have virgin plastic reduction goals. IKEA pledged to eliminate all plastic packaging by 2028.
Reducing Amazon’s plastic packaging and making all its packaging recyclable are necessary steps to combat the plastic pollution crisis. Our Company is overdue on taking action on this important issue.
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 Company’s packaging;
• Assess the reputational, financial, and operational risks associated with continuing to use substantial plastic packaging, while plastic pollution grows;
• Describe any planned reduction strategies or goals, materials redesign, transition to reusables, substitution, or reductions in our Company’s use of plastic packaging.