Warehouse club retail giant Costco has committed to provide new disclosures into its plastic footprint and to release a plastic reduction action plan, according to environment and social-focused investor Green Century.

Green Century said that the new commitments follow discussions it held with the company, aimed at exploring how to expand the scope and scale of Costco’s plastic reduction efforts.

Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Funds, said:

“We commend Costco for providing the information that investors need and for taking steps to reduce their use of plastic, especially new plastics. We look forward to working with the company to reduce its contribution to the plastic crisis by setting reduction targets that will meaningfully protect our oceans and wildlife.”

The agreement follows the announcement in November 2022 by Green Century that Costco had committed to set climate targets to reduce emissions across its full value chain, including a pledge to disclose its aggregate Scope 3 emissions, and to set Scope 3 targets in 2023, following a successful climate proposal filed by the investor at Costco’s AGM. Costo subsequently published its updated Climate Action Plan, indicating that Scope 3 emissions accounted for over 98% of its carbon footprint.

Under the new deal, Costco will provide disclosures in July 2024, which will include the total plastic footprint of the company’s Kirkland Signature in-house brand, as well as details including the total percentage of recycled content in its plastic packaging. Costco also pledged to release a 5-year action plan in December 2024, outlining its planned steps to reduce total plastic in its Kirkland Signature Packaging, and to report on progress made in each year of the plan.

While welcoming the commitment, Green Century added that Costco has more work to do to address its exposure to single-use plastics. Green Century signed a statement earlier this year alongside more than 180 other asset managers calling for companies to immediately reduce single-use plastic packaging, upscale reusables systems, phase out hazardous chemicals, and advocate for responsible plastics legislation. 

Douglass Guernsey, shareholder advocate at Green Century, said:

“Companies need to take single-use plastic risk seriously. Single-use plastics cost society an estimated $350 billion per year in emissions, ocean pollution and collection. Increasing regulation and litigation risk means these costs will be returned to companies that produce such excessive, unrecyclable plastic. Frankly, it’s past time to act.”