Amazon shareholders reject environmental decisions on plastic packaging and the climate crisis

Amazon shareholders rejected a proposal that would have required the company to report the amount of plastic it uses, the incentives to reduce plastic use and the downsides of continuing its current habits.

This was just one of 15 environmental or social justice proposals that shareholders voted against at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday, even as they accepted CEO Andy Gacy’s compensation package of more than $212 million, the Seattle Times reported. The plastics proposal came on the heels of a Oceana report that found plastic packaging waste at Amazon rose 29 per cent between 2019 and 2020, from £465 to £599m.

Washington’s vibrant economy – and Amazon’s global logistics – depend on our coastal waters; In a Oceana press release in support of the proposal, Amazon’s field representative for Oceania in Washington, Sarah Holzknecht, said Amazon needs to step up and support efforts to save the world’s oceans. “Amazon’s plastic packaging generates a huge amount of waste, and plastic pollution is destroying our environment. With its roots in Seattle, Amazon must be a leader in reducing the plastic crisis facing our planet.”

Oceana also sought to galvanize support for the resolution by stacking Seattle neighborhoods with placards that read, “AMZN: Less Plastic, Please.” The organization said 55 percent of seabirds, 70 percent of marine mammals and 100 percent of sea turtles either ate or got stuck in plastic waste. Furthermore, the type of plastic Amazon uses – plastic film – is one of the most deadly to marine life.

Amazon confirmed that Oceana’s numbers were inaccurate and urged shareholders to vote against the decision. The company said it was already working to reduce its use of plastic and was “committed to protecting the planet,” as the Seattle Times reported. She said the Oceana report overestimated plastic use by 300 percent.

Amazon, for its part, has also said it is working to reduce plastic waste by pledging to package all Alexa and other tech products in 100 percent recyclable plastic by 2023. It has also started a “Frustration-Free Packaging” program to offer financial incentives to manufacturers. Use recyclable plastic packaging and design “size-fits-all boxes” so that you don’t need to use extra plastic for cushioning items.

However, in an editorial on the issue, the Seattle Times noted that Amazon has not pledged to reduce or eliminate plastic packaging in general, while other consumer goods companies including Unilever and IKEA have done so.

Regardless of whether the decision is successful, the editorial concluded, “it is very important to keep the dialogue and outreach going.” “It is good that advocates continue to draw attention to plastic pollution. It’s a good thing Amazon understands that more needs to be done. It is up to all of us to become aware of our shopping and recycling habits.”

Another environmental resolution it failed to pass would have flagged Amazon’s retirement property to ensure it did not support oil, coal or other industries that violate the company’s climate goals.

Other failed decisions have focused largely on workers’ rights, according to The Guardian. They would request reports on workers’ health and safety and the treatment of warehouse workers, among other things.

CEO of activist investor Tulipchar Antoine Argog, whose organization sponsored a resolution calling for a report on warehouse salaries and conditions, told Reuters.

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