Kraft Foods told by shareholders to recycle more

Kraft Foods has come under pressure from its shareholders to increase the amount of packaging it recycles following criticism that it is unwilling to engage on the issue.

At the company’s recent annual meeting in the US, shareholders urged that it take responsibility for post-consumer packaging, which will help divert millions of tonnes of material from landfill. The proposal, filed by advocacy group As You Sow, wants to see clear evidence of this through a reporting mechanism.

“Kraft – a major user of packaging worldwide – has been silent on this critical sustainability issue,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior program director at As You Sow.

“At a time when governments across the country are focusing on conserving natural resources and reducing waste, Kraft and its peers must take responsibility for the massive amount of packaging waste they generate in the US, as they have done in many other countries.”

A recent assessment by Resource Recycling suggests wasted packaging materials in the US represent a loss of $6.5bn in potential market revenue, or $12bnof un-reclaimed energy value annually.

According to As You Sow, Kraft has admitted that nearly a third of its packaging may not be readily recyclable, despite having being on the market for more than 30 years.

“Kraft is likely allowing millions of dollars’ worth of resources from its post-consumer products to go to a landfill,” Mac-Kerron continued.

Producer responsibility obligations are already well established throughout much of Europe, Canada, and Japan, but in the US taxpayers still foot the bill for addressing this waste.

Cash-strapped state and local governments in the U.S. are demonstrating growing support for extended producer responsibility legislation as budget pressures make it increasingly difficult to meet waste reduction goals and to sustain kerbside recycling programmes.

As You Sow’s has already successfully pressed Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé Waters to voluntarily take responsibility for more than 50% of their product packaging in the US, and is in dialogue with other leading consumer brands and grocery companies on this issue.

Maxine Perella

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