Green Century Applauds Costco’s Movement on Seafood Sustainability, Expects Further Progress
BOSTON, MA – Green Century Capital Management, Inc. ("Green Century"), the Boston-based investment advisor to the environmentally-responsible Green Century Equity Fund, announced today that it believes that Costco Wholesale Corp.* ("Costco") has made significant progress in disclosing information about key sustainability issues, including the seafood sold in its stores.
"We applaud Costco for releasing its first sustainability report and for committing to increase disclosure of its greenhouse gas inventory and its objectives and strategy for procuring seafood in a sustainable way," stated Emily Stone, shareholder advocate for Green Century. "We are especially encouraged to see that the company has a seafood purchasing strategy that gives consideration to the ‘condition of fish stocks' and to the 'protection and respect of the marine ecosystem,' although we are concerned that the company fails to provide details on how this strategy is executed."
According to Stone, the Green Century Equity Fund had filed a shareholder proposal at Costco, in conjunction with Trillium Asset Management Corporation ("Trillium"), requesting that the company produce a sustainability report covering strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and seafood sustainability, among other social and environmental issues. After the release of Costco’s first corporate social responsibility report in September and subsequent conversations with Costco that demonstrated the company's commitment to transparent sustainable operations, including seafood procurement, the Green Century Equity Fund and Trillium withdrew the shareholder proposal.
Stone notes that, despite the good progress made by Costco, the company still has significant work to do on seafood sustainability and Green Century will monitor the company's progress. "We will continue to urge Costco to stop selling all threatened fish, such as pollock, and to strengthen their environmentally-friendly seafood strategy" she said. "We also want to know what Costco means when the company says that it gives consideration to condition of fish stocks – how overfished does a species have to be? A strong and clear sustainable seafood policy is critical for retailers and other seafood vendors whose business depends on a healthy ocean with plenty of fish."
Marine biologists and ocean experts around the world have reached the conclusion that oceans are in peril, threatened by climate change, habitat destruction and overfishing. Overfishing, or catching fish more quickly than they can reproduce, poses a particularly serious problem. According to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, 80% of the world’s wild fish are either fully- or over-exploited.
Mike Gravitz, Oceans Advocate for Environment America, said, "Consumer demand for fish at the brink of depletion like tuna, red snapper, cod, pollock and dozens of others is what drives fishermen to overfish. So it is gratifying to see large retailers like Costco trying to lead consumers in the direction of buying fish that have healthy populations and away from fish that are depleted."
Seafood continues to be a popular choice for American consumers, exacerbating the threatened state of many species. During the last 25 years, overall seafood consumption in the United States increased almost 70%. Supermarkets and other retailers represent about 50% of all seafood purchased by American consumers and traditionally bring in about $16 billion a year from selling fish and other seafood products.
"Trillium is pleased that Costco is joining the thousands of other companies which now produce some form of sustainability reports," stated Jonas Kron, Senior Social Research Analyst for Trillium. Kron went on to say, "We are also encouraged by Costco's assurances that it will discuss the issue of water consumption through its supply chain.
Business risks related to sourcing food products in areas of current or projected water scarcity are material concerns for investors."
*As of June 30, 2009, Costco Wholesale Corp. was not held by the Green Century Balanced Fund and comprised 0.47% of the Green Century Equity Fund. Portfolio composition will change due to ongoing management of the Funds. Please refer to the Green Century Funds’ website for current information regarding the Funds’ portfolio holdings. These holdings are subject to risk as described in the Funds' prospectus. References to specific investments should not be construed as a recommendation of the securities by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
Green Century Capital Management is an investment advisory firm focused on environmentally responsible investing. Founded by a partnership of non-profit environmental advocacy organizations in 1991, Green Century’s mission is to provide people who care about a clean, healthy planet the opportunity to use the clout of their investment dollars to encourage environmentally responsible corporate behavior. Green Century believes that shareholder advocacy is a critical component of responsible investing and actively advocates for greater corporate environmental accountability.
You should consider the Green Century Funds' investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. For a prospectus that contains this and other information about the Funds, call 1-800-93-GREEN, visit www.greencentury.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.
Distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC 10/09
> Back To News Listings