Twenty-six percent of Coca-Cola shareholders voted to require that the company disclose its plans on the future use and possible phase out of bisphenol-A (BPA) in beverage can linings, a 20 percent increase from a vote that occurred last year on the same resolution.
“Coke has become the industry laggard on BPA and that’s a bad message to send to investors,” said Michael Passoff, senior strategist at As You Sow, an environmental and social responsibility NGO that utilizes investor advocacy strategies. “Usually 10 percent is enough to move a company to take action, but Coca-Cola’s refusal to address this issue last year is why it is the only company targeted with a BPA container shareholder resolution again this year. Unlike other major can users who are starting to phase out of BPA, Coca-Cola has shown no evidence that it is actively searching for alternatives.”
The resolution was introduced by As You Sow, socially responsible investment firms Domini Social Investments and Trillium Asset Management Corporation, along with several religious institutional investors, according to a news release. Shareholders voted on the same resolution in 2010 with 22 percent support.
A recent study by As You Sow, in conjunction with Green Century Capital Management, gave Coca-Cola an “F” grade in their ranking of 20 packaged food companies on their efforts to eliminate BPA from products and mitigate BPA-related risk. (Hain Celestial, H.J. Heinz, and ConAgra all earn “A” grades for BPA-free can linings for certain product lines and each has an estimated timeline to eliminate the chemical from all product packaging.)
Coca-Cola maintains that BPA does not pose a risk to consumers and urged federal public health regulators to take the lead on the matter.
“The beverage packaging for Coca-Cola products does not pose a public health risk — including any alleged risks associated with BPA in can linings,” the company says on its website. “While we are very aware of the highly publicized concerns and viewpoints that have been expressed about BPA, our point of view is that the scientific consensus on this issue is most accurately reflected in the opinions expressed by those regulatory agencies whose missions and responsibilities are to protect the public’s health.”
The FDA is re-reviewing BPA after announcing in January 2010 that it had “some concern” about the chemical. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has also launched a $30 million study on the safety of low level exposure to BPA.