Investors voted on a resolution asking Coca-Cola to disclose its plans around continued use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in beverage can linings, with 26 percent supporting it. In 2010, the first filing focused solely on BPA was supported by 22 percent of Coca-Cola investors. Shareholder support for this issue has seen an 18 percent increase in the last year.
Muhtar Kent, CEO and chairman, rejected the motion at the April 27, 2011, annual meeting, saying the company did not believe there was sufficient scientific evidence to stop using BPA in the epoxy linings of its cans. "If we had any sliver of doubt about the safety of our packaging, we would not continue to use (BPA)," Kent said at the annual meeting in Atlanta. "It's that simple."
The resolution was introduced by the shareholder advocacy group As You Sow; socially responsible investment firms Domini Social Investments and Trillium Asset Management Corp.; and several religious institutional investors.
"Coke has become the industry laggard on BPA and that's a bad message to send to investors," says Michael Passoff, senior strategist at As You Sow. "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."
At the meeting, Kent said the company was considering alternatives.