Shareholders Urge P&G, General Mills to Step Up Package Recycling

Procter & Gamble and General Mills are being asked, through shareholder resolutions, to fund recycling programs for their packaging waste.

4Advocacy group As You Sow plans to file resolutions with the companies this week pushing them to adopt extended producer responsibility programs, in which companies take responsibility for the disposal of their products and packaging by running take-back programs or funding collection efforts.

“We’re burning and landfilling 40 million tons of recyclable packaging materials estimated to be worth $15 to $23 billion every year,” said Conrad MacKerron, As You Sow’s senior director for corporate responsibility, in a statement. “We can no longer afford to discard packaging containing valuable resources. As shareholders we see this as throwing away revenue and we need to stop it immediately.”

The resolutions ask the companies — parents to big-name brands like Oral-B, Tampax, Tide and Pampers on the P&G side, and Cheerios, Pillsbury, Yoplait and Green Giant under General Mills — to report on how taking responsibility for post-consumer product packaging could reduce carbon emissions and lead to new designs.

Using recycled material in place of virgin material typically results in fewer carbon dioxide emissions. And one of the benefits of extended producer responsibility, advocates say, is that it makes companies evaluate how they can change products and packaging to be smaller, lighter and more easily recyclable.

The resolutions from As You Sow also ask the companies to get involved in public policy debates in states where extended producer responsibility laws are under discussion, and to report on the costs and benefits of similar laws in other countries.

There are currently 23 states with extended producer responsibility laws, although all cover just electronic waste.

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