Costco should stop supersizing wasteful packaging

Lots of people are taking steps to reduce waste and cut plastic, but we need corporations to do their part. Costco can make a big impact right now by stopping excessive packaging.

Staff | TPIN

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Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Our favorite buy-in-bulk stores, like Costco, shouldn’t send us home with a mountain of unnecessary packaging along with whatever we actually need.

But unfortunately, part of the superstore’s model is to use wasteful bulk packaging even for tiny products.

As we approach Earth Day, many of us are thinking about how we can make a positive impact for our planet. 

Take action right now for a future with less waste and pollution by calling on Costco to stop senselessly supersizing packaging waste.

Costco’s excessive use of packaging is by design

If you’ve been to Costco recently, you might have noticed some suspiciously large packaging, even on small items — such as a 2-inch tub of eye cream in an 8-inch by 11-inch plastic shell.

And if you looked closer, you might have realized that this is common throughout the store. Lots of other small items such as gift cards and cosmetics come packaged in large, clear plastic shells, or are surrounded by cardboard that’s several times the size of the item.

According to a packaging consultant for some of Costco’s suppliers, despite the unnecessary waste this creates, it’s all by design. Costco has minimum size packaging requirements for items, not based on how much packaging an item actually needs, but how the retailer wants it to fit and look on the shelves.

With waste piling up in our landfills, litter spoiling our outdoor spaces, and plastic pollution spewing into our environment at an ever-increasing rate, it’s time for major corporations to do their part in helping curb this crisis.

Costco is one of America’s most popular places to shop, which means that it could have a profound impact if it took action to curb this especially wasteful use of packaging.

Superstores are flooding our lives with wasteful packaging

Costco’s oversized and excessive packaging might be an extreme example, but the retailer isn’t alone in its contributions to the plastic waste problems we’re facing. At many major American retailers, it can be hard to find product options that don’t come wrapped in wasteful packaging, plastic and otherwise.

Every April, Earth Day reminds us that if we want to preserve a healthy planet for future generations, we all have to take responsibility for reducing waste, pollution and other environmentally harmful practices where we can. 

And that doesn’t just go for individuals — corporations and other institutions need to step up as well. Costco has a chance right now to set an example for other retailers to follow.

Bottom line: Nothing we use for a few minutes should threaten our health and pollute our future for hundreds of years. It’s time for Costco to take all that unnecessary packaging off its shelves.

Send your message to Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek today.


Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG