REPUBLIC SERVICES, INC. | Report on climate-related just transition plan at REPBULIC SERVICES, INC.

Status
AGM passed
AGM date
Previous AGM date
Proposal number
4
Resolution details
Company ticker
RSG
Resolution ask
Report on or disclose
ESG theme
  • Environment
ESG sub-theme
  • Just Transition
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Shareholder
Company sector
Industrials
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
Shareholders request the Board of Directors prepare a report disclosing how Republic Services, Inc., is addressing the impact of its climate change strategy on relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to its employees, workers in its supply chain, and communities in which it operates, consistent with the "Just Transition" guidelines of the International Labor Organization and indicators of the World Benchmarking Alliance. The report should be prepared at reasonable cost, omitting proprietary information, and be available to investors.
Supporting statement
At the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, the United States agreed to the Just Transition Declaration, which aligns with the "Just Transition" guidelines in the International Labor Organization's Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all. The latter states an environmentally sustainable future requires ""anticipating impacts on employment, adequate and sustainable social protection for job losses and displacement, skills development and

social dialogue." (https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/---emp_ent/documents/publication/wcms_432859.pdf) Those guidelines emphasize the "pivotal role"" of employers " in bringing about social, economic and environmental sustainability with decent work and social inclusion."

The World Benchmarking Alliance’s indicators include discrete, time-based indicators, including those tied to developing a just transition plan through consultation with affected stakeholders; mitigating the negative social impacts of the carbon transition on workers and communities; establishing a clear process for identifying job dislocation risks for workers and communities; and developing plans to retain and reskill workers for an inclusive workforce. (See https://assets.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org/app/uploads/2021/07/JustTransition-Methodology.pdf.)

Republic Services has 2030 operational GHG emission reductions goals, consistent with the Science Based Targets initiative, and targets “Circular Economy” advancements in plastic recycling in its “Climate Leadership.” Its fails to disclose, however, how this will be achieved in a manner consistent with Just Transition principles, despite the potential impact on employees and communities, particularly giving automation and artificial intelligence playing key roles in achieving these objectives.

Its 10-K notes using automated single-driver trucks decreases both “emissions” and “labor costs.”

The technological advancements and business models behind plastic recycling also raise just transition issues for the millions of ‘waste pickers’ around the world. While ethical issues are most pronounced for workers in developing countries, the “introduction of robotic sorters for recycling – and artificial intelligence in general -- continues to raise ethical considerations around job security” in the US recycling industry (see https://www.recyclingproductnews.com/article/40927/how-robotic-sorters-are-redefiningrecycling).

Republic Services’ Sustainability Report simultaneously touts spending on “automation with AI” in capturing more recyclable material and in “support[ing] operations amid a challenged labor market.” It re-opened its “Next-Gen” recycling facility in Plano, Texas – after a fire destroyed the original one – with half the labor thanks to automation and optical sorters.

With automation core to Republic Services’ climate-strategy, there is an urgent need to develop a just transition plan to ensure its actions are fair and equitable to affected workers and communities.

How other organisations have declared their voting intentions

Organisation name Declared voting intentions Rationale
Kutxabank Gestion SGIIC SAU. For
KBI Global Investors For We are supporting this resolution as shareholders would benefit from more disclosure on whether and how the company considers human capital management and community relations issues related to the transition to a low-carbon economy as part of its climate strategy.

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