On May 25 at Amazon’s Annual Meeting, shareholders will vote on a resolution that, if passed, would require the e-commerce giant to directly address its growing plastic problem which, according to a recent Oceana report, grew by 29% in 2020 to nearly 600 million pounds. Over 35% of Amazon’s shareholders supported a similar resolution last year. Oceana, the world’s largest ocean advocacy organization, is calling on shareholders to vote “yes” on the resolution. The resolution simply requires the company to report on its plastic packaging footprint and develop a plan (at a reasonable cost) to reduce its use of plastic.
Oceana is targeting Seattle, the home of Amazon and many of its shareholders, to win support for the resolution. The campaign features photos of ocean animals eating or being covered by ocean plastic along with the headline “AMZN: Less plastic, please.” Studies have estimated that for species, 55% percent of sea birds, 70% of marine mammals, and 100% of sea turtles have ingested or become entangled in plastic and have found that plastic film, the type of plastic used by Amazon, is one of the deadliest forms of plastic for marine life. Moreover, plastic film is extremely difficult to recycle and is not accepted at most curbside recycling programs in the U.S., the UK, and other large markets for the company.
The campaign included teams of canvassers signing up supporters outside of Amazon’s headquarters in South Lake Union, and running mobile billboards in key Seattle neighborhoods including by the Climate Pledge Arena, named by Amazon (and which has, unlike the company, announced that it will phase out single-use plastic). Oceana also placed 1,000 yard signs and 500 posters around the Seattle area in support of the resolution.
Oceana’s Field Representative in Washington Sara Holzknecht says, “Washington’s vibrant economy – and Amazon’s global logistics – rely on our coastal waters; Amazon needs to step up and support the effort to save the world’s oceans. Amazon’s plastic packaging generates a massive amount of waste, and plastic pollution is devastating our environment. Given its Seattle roots, Amazon should be a leader in curbing the plastics crisis facing our planet. Here in the Pacific Northwest, as orca and salmon populations continue to decline, it is now more important than ever to reduce plastic pollution in the Salish Sea and other waterways. Voting in favor of this resolution could be a game changer for the oceans and marine life.”
Amazon, which is asking shareholders to vote against the proposal (and disputes Oceana’s estimates) does not currently report on its plastic footprint and has not responded to multiple requests by Oceana to share its data. Additionally, the company has not committed to specific plastic reduction goals.
Ahead of the Annual Meeting, Oceana sent Amazon shareholders a letter, outlining five reasons to vote “yes” on Item 8. Shareholders are also being asked to pledge their intention to vote in favor of the resolution at www.amazoniansfortheoceans.com.
Click here for images of the “AMZN: Less plastic, please” billboards, yard signs, and posters.