- Keurig Dr Pepper and Colgate-Palmolive are each pursuing further reusable packaging pilots and enhancing reporting, according to ESG investing firm Green Century Funds, which recently resolved shareholder resolutions with the companies calling for them to reduce their plastic packaging use.
- Keurig Dr Pepper will publish an annual reuse/refill baseline assessment in its June corporate social responsibility report. By 2024, the company plans to launch certain new reuse and refill pilots, according to a Green Century press release Monday. Keurig Dr Pepper had such efforts in the works prior to the engagement with Green Century, according to the company.
- Colgate-Palmolive will more thoroughly disclose reuse pilots it has launched or planned, Green Century said in a March 31 press release. It will also publish a reuse/refill baseline assessment in its upcoming 2023 sustainability report and look at accelerating the creation of 2030 plastic reduction targets, the company confirmed.
The value in these steps is largely around boosting industry transparency and discussion, said Green Century Director of Shareholder Advocacy Annie Sanders. “I think this is significant because there is a lack of visibility around the extent to which especially major CPGs are piloting and working to scale up refill/reuse models,” Sanders said.
For example, Colgate “had actually piloted a lot of [reusable packaging] efforts, but they do not report on those efforts as thoroughly as we as investors want them to,” Sanders said. Investors think more robust reporting would be beneficial for the company and “probably move the conversation forward and show that there are companies actually taking leadership and investing real dollars in these efforts,” Sanders said.
Colgate-Palmolive Chief Sustainability Officer Ann Tracy said in an email that the company agreed that “to the extent possible, we would look to accelerate target setting for 2030 and beyond for plastic reduction, as standards emerge around this target. In the meantime, we continue to make progress toward reduction in our overall use of plastic.”
Regarding the reuse/refill baseline assessment, Tracy said the company’s 2022 baseline will be based on tonnage of reusable/refillable packaging. “We are actively engaged in a number of external discussions on industry standards for how to set and track reuse/refill packaging KPIs, so we may change how we report this KPI in the future as we align with forthcoming industry standards,” Tracy said.
Green Century said last year it drove changes at about a dozen companies, including Office Depot and Coca-Cola, on the issue of plastic reduction through shareholder resolution negotiations and subsequent withdrawal agreements. There is follow-up work to be done this year, Sanders said. As such, Colgate’s and Keurig’s resolutions were the only plastic reduction ones that Green Century filed for 2023. More broadly, Green Century has filed more than 30 total resolutions this shareholder season on issues ranging from greenhouse gas emissions reduction to eliminating deforestation from supply chains.
Separate from reuse efforts, Colgate-Palmolive’s Tracy told Reuters this month that the company plans to launch a cheaper version of its recyclable toothpaste tube this year that uses 16% less plastic and is 16% lighter. Tracy said that, in North America, over three-quarters of the company’s toothpaste units are now sold in a recycled tube, which she expects to jump to 95% by the end of this year.