By Dieter Holger and Fabiana Negrin Ochoa
Executives at DuPont de Nemours Inc. have lost a vote against shareholders who are demanding that the chemical maker disclose more on how its plastic ends up in the environment.
The Wilmington, Del.-based company said Monday that it was reviewing a proposal to disclose its yearly spills of plastic pellets that won majority support in a shareholder vote. Plastic pellets are among the building blocks for a huge array of consumer goods, ranging from smartphone cases and shampoo bottles to toothpaste tubes and plastic bags. The bits of plastic can end up in the ocean after spilling out of containers on their way to manufacturers.
"We can confirm that the proposal received support from a majority of the shares that were voted at the annual shareholder meeting," said a spokesperson for DuPont, one of America's biggest chemical companies.
DuPont's board had opposed the measure, saying it considered "its adoption is unnecessary given the company's robust sustainability policies and programs."
As You Sow, an advocacy group that filed the resolution, said the vote won the backing of stockholders representing some 81% of the company's shares. That is a record amount of support for an environmental shareholder proposal opposed by the top brass at a publicly traded corporation, according to the Sustainable Investments Institute.
"This vote confirms a tidal wave of support by investors to confront a deadly contributor to the global plastic pollution crisis, as well as a historically high-vote result for a common sense request that the company provide public reporting on spills of pre-production plastic pellets," Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, said.
Shareholder resolutions aren't legally binding in the U.S., but stockholders can vote out executives on a company's board. Under President Biden, U.S. regulators are expected to greenlight more shareholder resolutions on environmental issues than during the Trump era.
In its statement against the proposal, DuPont said its resources are better spent on the plastic programs it already has in place. The company said it is already acting to avoid pellet spills, boost plastic recycling and prevent plastic waste from entering the environment.
DuPont isn't the only company investors want to report on plastic pellets. Companies such as Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. have already reported on the waste.
A spokesperson for DuPont said Monday that the company's board is considering "the appropriate next steps with respect to reporting" on plastic pellets.
Write to Dieter Holger at email@example.com; @dieterholger
(END) Dow Jones Newswires