How many Starbucks coffee cups have you drunk in your lifetime? If you are concerned about the environmental cost of each sip you take, read on to find out how Starbucks fosters environmental sustainability.
Climate change is an apparent thorn in our side as generations come and go. Recently, I stumbled on a 2018 article that highlighted the following; Starbucks created around 868 tons of waste, withdrew a billion cubic meters of water from the environment, and released 16 million tons of greenhouse gases. I believe such statistics are disheartening. I was relieved when I found out Starbucks has a solid plan to keep the earth green. In 2020, Starbucks’ CEO, Kevin Johnson, announced the company’s continued commitment to sustainability and environment conservation. So, what do you need to know about Starbucks’ latest commitment to a greener earth?
Starbucks is keen on coffee-specific strategies that reduce its carbon footprint. This giant coffee shop supports its coffee sources with precision agronomy tools that increase farm productivity and reduce the use of fertilizers. The company even donates millions of plant climate-resistant coffee varieties to farmers.
Secondly, Starbucks focuses on water conservation strategies that preserve and replenish water sources used to nourish its coffee. It also participates in forest protection programs in essential coffee landscapes. These carbon-neutral green coffee approaches create a long-term supply of quality coffee for Starbucks’ supply chain.
Starbucks encourages customers to drink sustainably. This Starbucks strategy is not new. In 2008, Starbucks committed to replacing single-use plastics with reusable cups by 2015. Its Bring Your Own Cup concept since the 80s was another attempt at waste reduction. Unfortunately, these plans flopped for several reasons. According to a study, coffee consumers feel a reusable cup is an inconvenience; they also think it’s unsanitary to drink from one.
Nonetheless, in 2021, Starbucks reintroduced personal reusable cups to meet its sustainability goals. For each order made with a reusable cup, the company offers a $.10 discount that encourages customers to embrace this approach. Despite these efforts, single-use plastics still maintain traction, so Starbucks constantly works with environmental partners to create cups and lids with recycling and compost properties. Recently, Starbucks achieved one of its long-term goals; it replaced plastic straws with eco-friendly strawless coffee-cup lids. The company also introduced biodegradable straws made with materials like polylactic acid in its stores.
Statistics from companies like Beyond Meat prove meat consumption affects our environment negatively. For instance, in 2018, Starbucks menus contributed to 21% of the coffee company’s carbon footprint. Animal protein also compounded the issue with significantly high water use during rearing. Recently, Starbucks introduced plant-based food and beverage items in South-East Asia, the Caribbean, Chile, and other regions. The company consistently works to innovate new and fun plant-based menu items. Vegan Starbucks lovers can enjoy meals like plant-based paninis and Beyond Meat Breakfast options. These eco-friendly menus simplify food waste management too.
According to statistics, one in nine Americans grapples with hunger. In 2016, Starbucks launched its Food Share program that donates excess food supplies to combat food insecurity, particularly in urban areas. COVID-19 also caused a sharp rise in the number of hungry families. This store-closing routine has provided millions of fresh, safe, ready-to-eat meals for local communities and special groups, like veterans. Since this plan diverts surplus food from landfills, Starbucks also prevents greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
Additionally, Starbucks cofounded Next Gen Consortium and participated in the association’s Cup Challenge drive to create sustainable cups. The company uses ethical practices to source coffee in partnership with Conservation International in a move that halved its carbon footprint. Starbucks works with the US Dairy Net Zero Initiative to ensure its milk products are carbon-neutral through innovative and viable dairy farming practices.
Starbucks refers to sustainability as one of its key responsibilities and takes great pride in keeping this promise. The coffee company released a detailed framework to track its carbon footprint, its use of resources, and waste management in its operations. The company partnered with Quantis and World Wildlife Fund to create a baseline that measures the impact of its sustainability efforts. Starbucks issues yearly sustainability reports that keep the general public in the loop about its progress towards a greener earth.
In a 2021 environmental and social impact report, Starbucks outlined a specific holistic focus on water conservation, sanitation, and water stewardship despite COVID-19 difficulties. Starbucks also diverted 32% of waste to its Food Share program, and it made 24% of recyclable, reusable, and compostable packaging material. These results are a remarkable improvement from Starbucks’ 2019 financial year. Interestingly, the company’s water consumption from natural sources reduced by 11%, and its greenhouse gas emissions increased by a percent.
A Greener Apron course is a Starbucks Global Academy initiative that teaches its partners environmental stewardship and sustainability. This witty name aligns with Starbucks’ brand colors and goals to go green and conserve the environment. The short-and-sweet free course equips trained partners with skills that champion sustainability along the company’s supply chain.
In 2018, the coffee shop giant released a greener-store framework that encourages its retail stores to align with its resource-positive approach. These new designs are a pivotal part of a Starbucks Greener Store; their state-of-the-art technologies conserve water and reduce the company’s carbon footprint. In 2021, Greener Stores registered a reduction of carbon emissions by 30% and conserved 1.3 billion gallons of water. These stores also use waste diversion and management tactics in programs like Ground For Your Garden, which provides spent coffee to garden lovers on a first-come-first-serve basis. So far, Starbucks has certified over 2700 Greener Stores in North America; it seeks to expand this practice to other global regions.