KraftHeinz latest to agree to As You Sow's request for action and timeline on recyclable packaging
Big company committment made to make all packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025
Following engagement with As You Sow, food and beverage giant KraftHeinz, the third largest U.S. food and beverage company, recently committed to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.
Shareholder advocacy organization As You Sow has been engaging the company for three years to make its packaging recyclable, focusing on multi-laminate pouches like those used for Kraft fruit drink Capri Sun and Heinz ketchup pouches. Such materials cannot be recycled and many end up discarded and polluting waterways due to inadequate solid waste management.
"We are pleased that KraftHeinz heard our concerns and those of other stakeholders and made a significant commitment to recyclable packaging," Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, said. "This demonstrates once again the impact of shareholder engagement. A critical mass of leading consumer goods companies has now made commitments due to our catalytic work."
KraftHeinz is the fourth largest consumer goods company to make a significant commitment to recycling packaging following engagement with As You Sow. In 2014, Procter & Gamble agreed to make 90% of its packaging recyclable, and Colgate-Palmolive pledged to make packaging recyclable in three of four operating divisions, both by 2020. In 2017, Unilever agreed to a similar commitment by 2025.
At its April 23 annual meeting, 13.5% of KraftHeinz shareholders representing $8 billion in market value voted for an As You Sow shareholder proposal asking the company to set such a timeline for making packaging recyclable. Before Kraft Foods and Heinz merged, 29% of Kraft Foods shareholders supported a similar proposal in 2015.
A 2015 scientific study estimates that 8 million tons of plastics are swept into waterways annually—equivalent to a garbage truck load every minute. In the marine environment, plastics break down into indigestible particles that marine life mistake for food. If no actions are taken, oceans are expected to contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
In a statement, KraftHeinz CEO Bernardo Hees acknowledged the huge task ahead, which has often been previously minimized by corporate management at consumer goods companies:
"Our collective industry has a massive challenge ahead of us with respect to packaging recyclability, end-of-life recovery and single-use plastics. Even though we don't yet have all the answers, we owe it to current and future generations who call this planet ‘home' to find better packaging solutions and actively progress efforts to improve recycling rates."
As You Sow advocates for more responsible production and post-consumer disposition of consumer products and packaging to preserve the Earth's limited natural resources. More information on our work on plastic pollution can be found here.