It’s time for Sysco to move beyond single-use plastic

As the world’s largest food distributor, Sysco can lead the way to less wasteful industry practices by cutting out single-use plastic across its operations.

Beyond plastic

Sysco delivers food to schools, hospitals, hotels and more.
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Food distributor Sysco delivers food everywhere from schools to hospitals to hotels — but in the process, it’s also contributing to the mountains of single-use plastic waste piling up in our landfills, in our communities and in our open spaces.

While Sysco shareholders have overwhelmingly voted for the company to reduce its plastic use, it’s far from a done deal — Sysco itself still needs to actually make the commitment that its shareholders (and the public) are calling for.

Sysco’s own shareholders want it to reduce plastic

Currently, Sysco doesn’t report any information about its plastic footprint and has not set any comprehensive goals for reducing its plastic use. That’s a problem — when America alone throws out enough plastic every 16 hours to fill the Dallas Cowboys football stadium, we can’t afford for huge corporate plastic users such as Sysco to stand on the sidelines.

But the tide is turning: 92% of Sysco shareholders just voted for the company to substantially reduce its plastic packaging and be more transparent about the materials it uses. Given that packaging is our country’s single largest contributor to the plastic pollution crisis, this is a huge step in the right direction.

Still, there’s technically nothing stopping Sysco from just ignoring the shareholder vote for the time being and continuing on with business as usual. If we want the world’s largest food distributor to actually follow through and meaningfully reduce its plastic waste, we need to speak out.

Sysco can begin to change the industry for the better

We’ve seen it time and again: When a major corporation (especially one near the top of its industry) starts to change its policies to prioritize health, sustainability and the public interest, other companies will follow suit.

That’s where Sysco comes in. The multinational corporation isn’t the only company that delivers wholesale food to restaurants, schools, hotels and hospitals — but it’s definitely the largest, which means its actions can influence the entire industry.

So if Sysco were to cut out wasteful single-use plastic across its operations, its impact would be twofold: less plastic polluting our world today, and the potential for more companies to step up tomorrow.


Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

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