BERKELEY, CA—MAY 11, 2021—After engagement with As You Sow on reducing single-use plastic packaging, Walmart Inc., the world’s largest company by revenue and largest U.S. grocery retailer, has agreed to cut its use of virgin plastic by 2025. In addition to this commitment, As You Sow has received similar promises from four other major global brands in just the last two months — Keurig DrPepper, Mondelez International, PepsiCo, and Target.
Citing urgent new data on the growing plastic pollution problem, As You Sow filed shareholder proposals with 10 leading consumer goods companies and retailers for 2021, including Walmart, calling for commitments to cut use of plastic packaging. Walmart will disclose the size of a virgin plastic reduction goal later in 2021. The company used 1.2 million metric tons of plastic packaging in its private brands sales in 2019, according to data submitted to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment initiative.
Based on As You Sow’s discussions with Walmart, the reductions will be significant and absolute cuts in plastic use, in alignment with its participation in the Global Commitment process. In recognition of the company’s commitment, As You Sow agreed to withdraw its shareholder proposal filed with the company.
“We are thrilled to have completed agreements with five leading global brands to slash use of virgin plastic in such a short time frame,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president at As You Sow. “These are important acts of leadership by companies whose packaging contributes to the global plastic pollution crisis.”
Two of the five companies have disclosed the size of their projected cuts. Keurig Dr Pepper will cut use of virgin plastic 20% by 2025. Mondelez committed to a 5% absolute reduction in virgin plastic, including a 25% cut in virgin plastic in its rigid plastic packaging. Research on the scope of commitments at PepsiCo, Target, and Walmart are still being finalized and will be disclosed later this year.
As You Sow’s efforts have been catalyzed by a 2020 landmark study by Pew Charitable Trusts, Breaking the Plastic Wave, which modeled actions needed to reduce 80% of the plastic pollution that flows into oceans by 2040. The report said immediate and sustained new commitments throughout the plastics value chain are needed, including actions by brand owners, consumer goods companies, and retailers to reduce at least one-third of plastic demand through elimination, reuse, and new delivery models.
The largest cut in overall plastic use to date by a major consumer goods company was a 2019 commitment by Unilever to cut virgin plastic use by 50%, including a total elimination of 100,000 tons of plastic packaging by 2025.
“We encourage other companies to step forward and make bold, absolute cuts in plastic packaging,” said MacKerron. “Thousands of companies will need to step forward and make similar commitments to ensure significant global reductions in single use plastic packaging.”
Two shareholder proposals on cuts in plastic use are still pending and set for a shareholder vote at Amazon on May 26 and Kroger in June.