A group of 25 investors managing more than $1 trillion in assets are demanding that Nestle SA, PepsiCo Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and Unilever NV reduce their use of plastic packaging, calling it environmentally damaging.
The initiative was organized by As You Sow, a nonprofit shareholder advocacy group that pushes companies to act responsibly. It was signed by investment managers including Hermes Investment Management, Impax Asset Management, NEI Investments and Walden Asset Management.
“Without fundamental redesign and innovation, about 30 percent of plastic packaging will never be reused or recycled,” the investors said in their letter. “These materials can persist in the environment, partially degraded, for hundreds of years, which, as well as causing damage to marine life, could also have a material impact by exposing companies to reputational damage.”
The group is asking the companies to disclose annual plastic packaging use, set plastic use reduction goals, facilitate recycling and transition to recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging as much as possible.
The investors said they want to push the companies to hold to those promises after five of the Group of Seven nations, excluding the U.S. and Japan, adopted a charter aimed at significantly reducing single-use plastic by 2040.
Similarly, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever have pledged to make packaging more recyclable, compostable, biodegradable and from higher recycled content by 2025.
P&G aims to reduce its plastic packaging by 20 percent by 2020 and about 90 percent of its packaging is already recyclable. “We agree we must be part of the solution to reduce plastic waste,” the company said in an emailed statement.
“We share concerns about the growing accumulation of packaging waste and the need to do something to minimize its impact on the environment,” Nestle said in a statement.
The company said it has already eliminated more than 100,000 tons of packaging materials from its production processes through last year, under existing environmental projects.
Pepsi and Unilever didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.