Investors Engage Companies on Safer Chemicals and Products
Investors have begun the 2008 proxy season by engaging more than 50 companies, focusing in particular on the chemicals PVC and Bisphenol-A and use of nanomaterials in products. Most engagements have been letters inquiring about company policies and practices but already several resolutions have been filed, and one has been withdrawn. For example:
Costco - filed and withdrawn for further dialogue. Boston Common Asset Management filed a resolution requesting a report by the company addressing how management is addressing the public health and policy challenges posed by numerous chemicals found in products it sells. The resolution was withdrawn when the company disclosed it had recently hired a sustainability director, it has been working to reduce use of PVC packaging, and it agreed to update investors at a later date. IEHN will be providing technical suggestions to the company for moving forward on safer chemicals issues.
Becton, Dickinson - refiled. Domini Social Investments refiled a resolution asking the company to report on its policies regarding brominated flame retardants and other toxic chemicals of concern, including product categories using the chemicals and options for deploying safer alternatives. A similar resolution was filed two years ago, out of concern that Becton, Dickinson was not sufficiently preparing for prospective European Union restrictions on toxic chemicals in its products. The prospects of such regulation have increased in these two years, but Domini believes the company still is not sufficiently addressing this issue.
Hasbro - refiled. The Camilla Madden Charitable Trust refiled a resolution asking the company to produce a sustainability report, citing concerns about PVC. A similar resolution won support of nearly 45% of voting shareholders in the 2007 proxy season.