IMPACT: Speaking Up at the Yum! Brands Shareholder Meeting

What does it take to speak up to corporate forest consumers? Just a single share of company stock. Dogwood Alliance’s Andrew Goldberg recently explained YUM! Brands’ role in forest devastation and admonished corporate leaders at the annual shareholders meeting in Louisville, KY.

YUM! Brands is the parent company of KFC and other fast food giants, which are large consumers of paper and paper packaging from poorly managed forests. The corporation buys millions of dollars of paper products from , one of the worst offenders in terms of unsustainable forestry practices. Dogwood Alliance purchases single shares of many companies, including YUM! Brands, in order to secure admission to – and a chance to speak at – these companies’ shareholder meetings.

 “The meeting itself was very fast and scripted,” Andrew reports. “These guys have a formula, and they know how to use it.”

But every shareholder has the right to address the corporate leaders during the meeting’s Q&A session, and Andrew quickly found a place at the microphone, explaining how YUM!’s practices in sourcing paper and paper packaging are endangering Southern forests.

“I applaud YUM!’s recent improvements in its paper packaging procurement; that is a start,” Andrew said at the meeting. “But it does not make you a leader and it does not mean your sourcing is now responsible. YUM! must set clear goals to improve its paper packaging and its procurement.  First, set clear goals to increase packaging efficiency – work to ‘right size’ and specify lighter weights for all your packaging. Second, use PCR fiber; the best paper does not come from forests but from forest-free fiber taken out of the waste stream. This would also including leading the charge to gain approval for broader use of recycled fiber when safe and appropriate. Third, when virgin fiber is necessary, insist on fiber from well-managed forests.  We don’t want your packaging to support large scale clearcutting and the conversion of natural forests to monoculture pine plantations. Commit to sourcing FSC certified fiber for your virgin fiber needs. And finally, get involved in the issue and leverage positive change. You can do it and it needs to be done.”

While we’d like to report that YUM!’s leadership was immediately moved to a positive response, that wasn’t the case.

“The CEO thanked me for bringing this information to their attention, and said that they would refer the matter to their Environmental Leadership Council.”

Check out Andrew’s 2-minute V-log report on his shareholder presentation.

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