Costco
Retailer
Membership based warehouse for wholesale and retail. The second largest retailer in the United States, the seventh largest retailer in the world.

Overall

Owned USA
Rating F
About the Ratings
Costco Wholesale Corporation
USA

Company Assessment

Costco Wholesale Corporation
Praise
The PalmOil Scan app, produced by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), rates companies on their commitment to sourcing sustainable palm oil. Companies are scored on their use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), commitment to sourcing CSPO, on-the-ground conservation action, and membership to the RSPO. Companies can earn a rating of Excellent, Good, Poor or No Commitment. This company is rated "Good" (retrieved 18 Nov 2023).
Source: WAZA (2023)
In 2021 the Mind the Store campaign ranked 50 of the largest retailers in North America on their efforts to eliminate toxic chemicals from consumer products. This company received a grade of B-.
Criticism
A 2019 report by two major environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Stand.earth, rated companies on their efforts to source sustainable materials for their tissue products. This company received a rating of 'F'.
Source: NRDC (2019)
Greenpeace's 2019 report, "Packaging Away the Planet" assesses twenty US retailers on their efforts to address the plastic pollution crisis. Companies are scored on policy, reduction, innovation and initiatives, and transparency. All retailers profiled in the report received failing scores. This company received a score of 16.6/100.
As You Sow's 2024 Plastic Promises Scorecard measures the corporate ambition and action of 225 large companies across six industries on six core pillars of plastic packaging pollution prevention: 1) Recyclability, 2) Reduction, 3) Recycled Content, 4) Recovery, 5) Reuse, and 6) Producer Responsibility. This company received a grade of F.
The 2022 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark assessed 127 companies in the food and agriculture, ICT and automotive manufacturing sectors on their human rights performance. This company received a score of 9.0%. The overall average score was a disappointing 17.3% and the highest score was 50.3%.
This 2017 investigative report by China Labour Watch reveals labor abuses in four Chinese toy factories. One or more of these factories supply this company. Labor abuses include low wages, excessive overtime, dangerous work environments and humiliating living conditions.
The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of international brands. The 2021 Laundering Cotton report investigates how forced-labour-produced cotton and cotton-based goods from the Uyghur Region wend their way into international supply chains of well-known international clothing brands, including brands owned by this company.
This company received a 'Red' rating in Greenpeace USA's 2017 Tuna Shopping Guide, which evaluates and ranks tuna brands on how sustainable, ethical and fair their tuna products are for our oceans - and for the workers that help get the products to store shelves.
This company received an S&P Global ESG Score of 19/100 in the Food & Staples Retailing category of the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment, an annual evaluation of companies' sustainability practices (last updated 18 Nov 2022). The rankings are based on an analysis of corporate economic, environmental and social performance, assessing issues such as corporate governance, risk management, environmental reporting, climate strategy, human rights and labour practices.
The 2023 Fashion Transparency Index reviewed 250 of the world's largest fashion brands and retailers and ranked them according to how much they disclose about their human rights and environmental policies, practices and impacts. Brands owned by this company scored 10%, signifying it has little to no information about their supply chain practices or policies available to the public. The average score was 26% and the highest score was 83%.
The Green Supply Chain Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI) evaluates consumer-facing companies that have a sizeable supply chain in China. The evaluation uses government supervision data and public information to assess the environmental management of their supply chains in China. This company received a score of 13.92/100 (retrieved 24 Nov 2023).
Source: IPE (2023)
Forest 500 identifies the 350 companies and 150 financial institutions with the greatest exposure to tropical deforestation risk, and annually assesses them on the strength and implementation of their deforestation and human rights commitments. This company received a score of 24.6%.
In October 2018 the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that this company agreed to pay a $3.85 million civil penalty. The settlement resolves CPSC staff's charges that the company knowingly failed to report to CPSC, as required by law, that the EKO Sensible Eco Living Trash Cans (EKO Trash Cans) contained a defect or created an unreasonable risk of serious injury. CPSC staff charged that the black plastic protective collar in the opening on the back of the EKO Trash Can receptacle can become dislodged and expose a sharp edge, posing a laceration hazard to consumers. Costco received 92 complaints about the EKO Trash Cans, including 60 complaints from consumers who received injuries, some serious, but did not notify the CPSC immediately of the defect or risk.
In 2023 KnowTheChain benchmarked 60 food and beverage companies on their efforts to identify and tackle forced labour risks in their supply chains. This company received a score of 27/100. The average score was a disappointing 16/100 and the highest score was 56/100.
The 2023 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark assessed 55 companies in the apparel sector on their human rights performance. This company received a score of 10.8%. The overall average score was a disappointing 18.2% and the highest score was 53.4%.
In January 2017 this company agreed to pay $11.75 million to settle allegations that its pharmacies violated the Controlled Substances Act when they filled prescriptions for controlled substances that were incomplete, lacked valid Drug Enforcement Administration numbers or were for substances beyond various doctors' scope of practice. Additionally, the settlement resolves allegations that the company failed to keep and maintain accurate records for controlled substances at its pharmacies and centralized fill locations.
The 2023 Gender Benchmark ranks 112 companies from the apparel and food and agriculture sectors on their efforts to drive gender equality and women's empowerment across their entire value chain. Companies are assessed on governance and strategy, representation, compensation and benefits, health and well-being, violence and harassment, and marketplace and community. This company ranked #93/112, with a total score of 13.1%. The average score was 23% and the highest score was 55%.
The 2021 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report ranks global food companies on how they are managing and reporting their farm animal welfare policies and practices. This company appeared in tier 5, "On the business agenda but limited evidence of implementation", with tier 1 being the best, and tier 6 the worst.
In July 2017 this company reached an overtime settlement of $9 million to resolve claims in a proposed class action lawsuit. The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit were pharmacists employed by the company working in the San Diego area. The pharmacists stated that the company required them to remain on call in the pharmacy area during the time of their rest breaks and pressured employees to work overtime without receiving financial compensation. The company stated it would pay close to $5,000 to each of the estimated 1,175 pharmacists and pharmacy managers who had worked with the company any time from April 2010 to the present.
The 2023 Food and Agriculture Benchmark assessed 350 keystone companies across the entirety of the food system, from farm to fork. It covers three dimensions where transformation is needed: nutrition, environment and social inclusion. This company ranked #191/350, with a total score of 14.4/100.
Information
D for report card on paper practices of the office supply sector, (A best, F worst), covering chain of custody endangered forests plantations & controversial sources, responsible forestry & FSC-certification, recycling & reduction, and other leadership. [Listed under Information due to age of report]
In 2018 volunteers collected and catalogued more than 187,000 pieces of trash from beach cleanups around the world to find out which corporations are contributing the most to the global plastic pollution problem. While not in the top 10, this company ranked as one of the world's worst plastic polluters.
The 2024 WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard evaluates the progress and performance of 285 major retailers and manufacturer companies, focusing on actions companies have taken to ensure their own palm oil supply chain is sustainable and free of deforestation, natural ecosystem conversion, and human rights abuse. This company failed to respond to WWF's requests for information.
EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning provides safety ratings for household cleaning products, with over 2,500 products rated from A (lowest concern) to F (highest concern). This company's score range is B to F, with 70% of their products scoring an F.
This 2014 report by the Workers Rights Consortium which investigates conditions at two Cambodian facilities owned by the Taiwanese-owned firm Zongtex Garment Manufacturing over the period 2010-2014 consistently identified serious violations, including underage workers, deprivinged workers of legally required compensation, coercing workers to work overtime, and providing workers with unclean drinking water that may endanger their health. This company is a key buyer from these factories. [Listed under Information due to age of report]
In November 2017 the Enough Project published Demand the Supply, which ranked consumer electronics and jewelry retail companies on their efforts to develop conflict-free minerals supply chains from Congo. Companies were ranked on reporting; sourcing conflict-free minerals from Congo; supporting the artisanal mining communities in Eastern Congo; and conflict-free minerals advocacy. This company received a score of 7.5/120. [Listed under Information due to age of report]
As documented by the Project of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), this company is involved in the USA prison industry. Costco has prison labor in its supply chain.
Source: AFSC (2021)
Be Slavery Free's 2024 Chocolate Scorecard rates all the major chocolate companies on their labour and environmental policies and practices. Companies were asked questions in six areas: traceability and transparency; living income; child labor; deforestation and climate; agroforestry; and pesticides. This retailer received a grey rating: "Lacks transparency did not respond or complete".
This company received a score of 17.7/100 in the Newsweek Green Ranking 2017, which ranks the world's largest publicly traded companies on eight indicators covering energy, greenhouse gases, water, waste, fines and penalties, linking executive pay to sustainability targets, board-level committee oversight of environmental issues and third-party audits. Ranking methodology by Corporate Knights and HIP Investor.
In 2022 the median pay for a worker at this company was US$45,450. The CEO was paid 218 times this amount. Exorbitant CEO pay is a major contributor to rising inequality. CEOs are getting more because of their power to set pay, not because they are increasing productivity or possess specific, high-demand skills. The economy would suffer no harm if CEOs were paid less (or taxed more). In contrast, the CEO-to-typical-worker compensation ratio was 20-to-1 in 1965 and 58-to-1 in 1989.
This company sells Rainforest Alliance certified products. However this only represents a fraction of this company's total private label products sales. Rainforest Alliance certification has been dubbed 'Fairtrade light' by critics, as it offers producers no minimum price for their crop, and guarantees a minimum of just 30% of the product is certified.
This company signed the Uzbek Cotton Pledge with the Responsible Sourcing Network, signifying a public commitment to not knowingly source Uzbek cotton for the manufacturing of any of their products until the Government of Uzbekistan ends the practice of forced labor in its cotton sector. However the Pledge was lifted in March 2022 after the Uzbek Forum for Human Rights, who monitored the annual cotton harvest since 2010, found no state-imposed forced labor in the 2021 harvest.
Follow the link to see this company's disclosure statement regarding human trafficking and anti-slavery.
EWG's 2015 report "BPA in Canned Food" analyzed 252 canned food brands to find out which ones are still using BPA (bisphenol A), a synthetic estrogen found in the epoxy coatings of food cans which has been linked to many health problems. This company was amongst the 'Better Players' for using BPA free-cans for some of its brands and/or products.
This company encourages suppliers of garden plants to limit the use of non-essential chemicals, discourages use of neonicotinoid insecticides on pollinator-attractive plants and encourages use of eco-friendly methods of pest and disease control. Also expanding its selection of organic products, which supports pollinator health.
In July 2012 this company received praise from the Humane Society for announcing that it will eliminate gestation crates - small cages used to confine breeding pigs - from its pork supply chains.
This company is a member of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (formerly the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative), which helps companies address conflict minerals issues in their supply chains. The RMI provides information on conflict-free smelters and refiners, common tools to gather sourcing information, and forums for exchanging best practices on addressing conflict minerals. Membership is open to companies that use or transact in tantalum, tin, tungsten or gold (3TG). Founded in 2008 by members of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.
Source: RMI (2019)
The Sustainable Food Lab is a network of business, public sector, and civil society leaders from around the globe who are working together to accelerate sustainability in mainstream food and agriculture.
This company is a member of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a legally binding, five-year commitment to improve safety in Bangladeshi ready-made garment factories. The Alliance aims to improve worker safety in the Bangladesh garment industry by upgrading factories, educating workers and management, empowering workers, and building institutions that can enforce and maintain safe working conditions throughout Bangladesh. However it lacks an important enforcement mechanism included in the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, and unlike the Accord, the Alliance has not received the endorsement of the ILO.
This company is a member of How2Recycle. The How2Recycle Label is a voluntary, standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. It involves a coalition of forward thinking brands who want their packaging to be recycled and are empowering consumers through smart packaging labels. Companies must be a member of the program to use the How2Recycle Label.
This company has claims on its website listing their sustainability responsibilities for employees, for their communities, to operate efficiently and in an environmentally responsible manner, and to source merchandise in a sustainable manner.
In 2023, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) asked companies to provide data about their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change risk. Responding companies are scored across four key areas: disclosure; awareness; management; and leadership. This company received a CDP Climate Change score of C.
Source: CDP (2023)
In 2023, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) asked companies to provide data about their efforts towards removing commodity-driven deforestation and forest degradation from its direct operations and supply chains. Responding companies are scored across four key areas: disclosure; awareness; management; and leadership. This company received a CDP Forests score of C.
Source: CDP (2023)
California, the UK and Australia have all enacted legislation requiring companies operating within their borders to disclose their efforts to eradicate modern slavery from their operations and supply chains. Follow the link to see this company's disclosure statement.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre digital platform presents news and allegations relating to the human rights impact of over 20,000 companies. Their enhanced Company Dashboards also include financial information, key data points based on corporate policies, and scores from prominent civil society benchmarks. Follow the link and use the search function to view this company's dashboard.
This company received a score of 5.3/10 in Grenpeace USA's 2015 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report, which evaluates and ranks supermarkets on their sustainable seafood policies.
OpenSecrets.org tracks the influence of money on U.S. politics, and how that money affects policy and citizens' lives. Follow link to see this company's record of political donations, lobbying, outside spending and more.
JUST Capital polls Americans every year to identify the issues that matter most in defining just business behaviour. For their 2024 rankings the public identified 20 issues, which are organised under the headings Workers, Communities, Customers, Shareholders and Environment. JUST Capital then define metrics that map to those issues and track and analyse the largest, publicly traded U.S. companies. This analysis powers their rankings, in which this company ranked 252nd of 937 companies, and 7th of 42 Retail companies.

Company Details

Type:
Public company
Revenue:
153 billion USD (2019)
Employees:
254,000 (2019)
Subsidiaries:
Costco Wholesale Australia Pty Ltd
Retailer
Membership based warehouse for wholesale and retail. Launched in Australia in 2009 and now has 13 sites across Australia, with more to come.

Contact Details

Address:
Issaquah, Washington, USA
Website:
www.costco.com

Products / Brands

Costco Wholesale Australia
Costco Supermarkets
Kirkland Signature House Brands