At General Mills’ annual shareholders meeting this week, a majority (55%) of shareholders voted in favor of a resolution to reduce the company’s use of plastic packaging. The voting results were preliminary, with full results expected shortly.
The proposal was submitted by Green Century Capital Management Inc. on behalf of the Green Century Equity Fund. It requests that General Mills “issue a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, assessing if and how the Company can increase the scale, pace, and rigor of its sustainable packaging efforts by reducing its absolute plastic packaging use.”
In addition to the broader societal impact, the proposers cited three main risks to General Mills of continuing to use plastic packaging at the current level:
- Reputational risk. Consumers (especially younger ones) are growing increasingly concerned about plastic waste and this concern is driving purchasing behavior.
- Regulatory risk. States have started implementing laws to reduce plastic packaging, and General Mills needs to be ready for this type of change.
- Competitive risk. General Mills’ competitors, including Mondelez and Kraft Heinz, have already committed to plastic reduction.
General Mills’ Board unanimously recommended against adopting the proposal.