Submitted: The Two Sides Team September 30, 2013
Advocacy group As You Sow scored a noteworthy triumph this week when McDonald’s announced that it will replace environmentally destructive polystyrene foam coffee cups with paper cups at the company’s 14,000 locations in the U.S.
via GreenBiz.com – 27 September 2013
Advocacy group As You Sow
scored a noteworthy triumph this week when McDonald’s announced that it
will replace environmentally destructive polystyrene foam coffee cups
with paper cups at the company’s 14,000 locations in the U.S.
A shareholder resolution filed by As You Sow in 2011 requested that
the fast food giant report on its progress toward ensuring a “more
environmentally beneficial beverage container.” After the resolution
gained 30 percent of shareowners’ votes, McDonald’s embarked on a pilot
program in which polystyrene cups were replaced with paper at 2,000
“The company has confirmed that the pilots were successful and that
it will phase out foam cups at all locations in the coming months,” As
You Sow stated this week.
While congratulating McDonald’s on its initiative, however, As You
Sow also observed that there is “more work to do for the company to have
a comprehensive packaging recycling policy.”
“McDonald’s has made a great start by phasing out foam,” said Conrad
MacKerron, senior vice president at As You Sow. “We hope they will also
incorporate recycled fiber in the cups and develop onsite systems to
collect and recycle food service packaging.”
Corporate engagement with McDonald’s by As You Sow took a route
well-traveled by shareowner advocates to a satisfactory end result:
filing a resolution leads to engagement, which leads to agreement.
As You Sow’s engagement with General Mills, on the other hand, has had its share of frustrating detours.
In 2011, As You Sow filed a shareowner resolution with General Mills,
requesting that the company keep up with some of its industry peers and
adopt an extended producer responsibility policy. After the company
agreed to meet regularly with stakeholders concerned over package waste,
the resolution was withdrawn.
“In spite of constructive dialogue,” As You Sow stated, “the company
was not willing to articulate a policy on post-consumer recycling of
packaging in the U.S. or to initiate new efforts to increase recovery of
its packaging or recycled content.”
As a result of the company’s inaction, As You Sow and Clean Yield Asset Management refiled the resolution (PDF) this year.
“After two years of dialogue, General Mills continues to avoid the
basic question of what responsibility it should bear for recycling
packaging waste in the U.S.,” MacKerron said. “The company currently
contributes to mandated producer responsibility systems in nearly all of
the European Union and several Canadian provinces, yet it has not
agreed to support similar responsibility for its packaging in the U.S.”
General Mills held its annual general meeting this week. The results
of the resolution’s vote have not been distributed, but the company
stated that the resolution did not receive a majority vote.
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