Boston/Berkeley – May 5, 2021 – Following a shareholder proposal filed by As You Sow and Green Century Capital Management°, Target Corporation, a Fortune 50 general merchandise retailer, has agreed to set a virgin plastic elimination goal for its private brand packaging across its fast-moving goods categories. The company will focus its efforts on packaging in the food and beverage, household cleaning, personal care, and beauty product segments.
As a result of this progress, As You Sow and Green Century have withdrawn their shareholder proposal.
“The company’s decision to address the plastic problem on high-impact product lines is a welcome sign of progress,” said Annalisa Tarizzo, shareholder advocate with Green Century. “To paraphrase the Target tagline, investors are starting to ‘expect more’ when it comes to how major retailers are addressing plastic-related risks. We’re pleased that a major brand like Target is taking this step.”
Target will announce the size and scope of its goal in the company’s next corporate social responsibility report this summer. However, its plastic elimination totals are expected to be achieved by jettisoning unnecessary materials, redesigning packaging, exploring reuse models, and reducing use of virgin plastic material.
Target’s commitment comes amid a wave of recent corporate virgin plastic reduction announcements, which were also secured through shareholder engagement with major consumer goods companies. Green Century led engagement with Coca-Cola Co., As You Sow and Green Century co-led the engagement with Target, and As You Sow led efforts with Keurig Dr Pepper, Mondelez International, and PepsiCo.
“Securing virgin plastic reduction commitments from five companies within three months is promising, but the work can’t stop here,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow. “We hope to see Target build toward absolute cuts in plastic use across all its private brands in the future. Many more companies need to step up and make significant cuts in use of plastic for single-use packaging.”
With 40% of plastic production going toward packaging, reduction commitments from major retailers and consumer goods companies are a vital step in stemming the flow of plastic pollution entering the ocean. According to the definitive Pew Charitable Trusts report, Breaking the Plastic Wave, existing solutions can reduce plastic pollution flowing into oceans 80% by 2040. The report calls on the consumer goods sector to reduce plastic demand by one-third through elimination, reuse, and new delivery models. In order to reach that goal, thousands of companies will need to make large cuts in plastic use.
About Green Century Capital Management
°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the United States. Green Century Capital Management hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of March 31, 2021, Target Corporation comprised 1.05%, 0.56%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.