Costco can protect wildlife by ditching single-use plastic

A 2021 report gave the chain an "F" on its excessive single-use plastic packaging. Costco can do better.

Beyond plastic


sea turtle chasing plastic bag
Willyam Bradberry |

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Everything’s bigger at Costco. And its loyal customers love the store’s low prices and free samples.

But the nationwide chain could go much bigger on reducing wasteful single-use plastic packaging, which often can’t be recycled and instead pollutes our environment for centuries.

Last fall, a report gave Costco an “F” for its excessive single-use plastic packaging.

In the face of a plastic pollution crisis that’s growing more dire by the day and putting hundreds of species of wildlife in harm’s way, retailers like Costco should strive harder to find ways to stop flooding their aisles with single-use plastic.

If Costco takes action to reduce its plastic footprint, it would set an example for other stores to follow. That’s why we’re calling on Costco to help lead the way to a future where we put our environment and wildlife over plastic waste.

Plastic pollution: an existential threat to wildlife

To you and me, the all-too-common sight of plastic pollution in our parks, waterways and other natural spaces is a frustrating reminder of the environmental cost of momentary conveniences like single-use plastic items.

But for wildlife, the stakes are infinitely higher. For a bird or fish or turtle, it’s easy to mistake a small piece of plastic for food. When animals ingest plastic waste, it can block their digestive tract and cause them to starve. Toxic chemicals in plastic can even harm their health in the long run.

Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.

We need to move away from single-use plastic packaging

Plastic packaging is the largest single contributor to the plastic waste crisis — 14.5 million tons of plastic containers were generated in 2018 alone.

It’s clear we need a large-scale shift away from single-use plastic packaging, and Costco can play a crucial role. By taking unnecessary plastic packaging off its shelves, it will both immediately reduce the amount of plastic in our environment, and also set an important example for others in the industry to follow. Send your message to Costco today.


Steve Blackledge

Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign, Environment America

Steve directs Environment America’s efforts to protect our public lands and waters and the species that depend on them. He led our successful campaign to win full and permanent funding for our nation’s best conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He previously oversaw U.S. PIRG’s public health campaigns. Steve lives in Sacramento, California, with his family, where he enjoys biking and exploring Northern California.

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