Shareholders call on Whole Foods to eliminate single-use plastic packaging

Media Contacts
Juliana Clejan

This follows consumer pressure on the company to put the planet over plastic

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

BOSTON – Green Century Capital Management° and Amazon shareholder Sara Sackner, with support from shareholder advocacy organization As You Sow, have jointly filed a shareholder resolution with, Inc.* (Amazon) urging the company to reduce its use of plastic packaging across its operations, including Whole Foods Market. Green Century is PIRG and Environment America’s affiliated mutual fund company. This is the second year in a row Green Century has filed a shareholder resolution targeting plastics at Whole Foods. 

“Grocery stores like Whole Foods have a major part to play in the fight against plastic pollution,” said Elizabeth DiSanto, oceans associate with Environment America. “They’re responsible for wrapping our food in single-use plastic– producing waste that ends up polluting waterways, littering beaches and harming ocean life like whales, sea turtles, and dolphins.”

Over 28% of all U.S. garbage is packaging, amounting to 82 million tons of material that is typically thrown out after a product is purchased or used. Environment America, PIRG and coalition partners have campaigned to get Whole Foods to eliminate single-use plastic. The coalition has collected nearly 80,000 petition signatures from consumers in support.

When it comes to grocery stores, Whole Foods Market has been a leader on sustainability in the past. It became the first United States grocer to phase out plastic bags at checkout counters in 2008. Whole Foods has taken small steps since then to reduce plastics, including offering paper straws, paper grocery bags, smaller plastic produce bags and eliminating polystyrene foam from their stores. 

However, Whole Foods has continued to lag behind competitors in terms of reducing their use of plastic. For the second year in a row, it received an “F” from As You Sow for failing to have a comprehensive plan to tackle plastic waste compared to competing chains. 

“When shopping at Whole Foods, the prevalence of plastic packaging is clear. It has become nearly impossible to shop without purchasing plastic,” said Juliana Clejan, PIRG’s Zero Waste campaign associate. “So much of this plastic packaging is unnecessary and it’s time for Whole Foods to take action to eliminate single-use plastics.” 

Thirty-five percent of Amazon shareholders voted in support of last year’s resolution calling on the company to move away from plastic. This past Thanksgiving, Environment America and PIRG also led a social media “week of action” calling on Whole Foods to eliminate single-use plastic packaging. Participants emphasized that they only intend to shop at stores that are actively trying to move away from plastic packaging and urged Whole Foods to do everything they can to help protect our planet. 

“Nothing we use for a few minutes should last for hundreds of years,” said DiSanto. “We need to stop the problem at its source and get grocery stores like Whole Foods to commit to reducing their use of plastic.”