Starbucks today announced that in the next decade, it would reduce its emitting greenhouse gases and waste to landfills in half. It is also committed to maintaining or replenishing 50% of the water that it holds for its coffee and its operations by 2030.
The company has also unveiled long-term greener strategies such as switching to reusable packaging and including photo-voltaic in its menu.
Starbucks ‘ sustainability targets have mixed records. It met the 2015 deadline for buying renewables to supply all its U.S. and Canadian sites. Nevertheless, in 2008, they have introduced the rechargeable containers for 25 percent of their drinks by 2015. In a few years ‘ time, the target was lowered to 5% by Starbucks. By 2018, despite 10 years of effort to encourage customers to change bookings, Starbucks served only 1.3 percent of its beverages in personal refillable cups. Based on that history, it will be a challenge to fulfill some of their new goals, especially as regards repillable packaging or containers.
According to Conrad MacKerron, vice-president As You Sow of the shareholder law community (As You Sow jointly published in 2019 a proposal from the shareholder at Starbucks for the company to reuse and recycle their package), consumers in more than 70 countries where Starbucks operates may find that they will have to pay for a single-user cup. In 2018, Starbucks tested this policy in the UK, which reveally raised the amount of hot beverages served in reusable cups from 2,2 to 5,8 percent with the addition of a 5 pence fee for the disposable cups-together with a 25 pence bonus for reusable cups.
Starbucks is still a long way from reducing its impact on the environment. The annual greenhouse gas emissions of the organization are almost equal to that from up to 14 coal-fired power stations, almost equal to that of other companies such as Microsoft. The Empire State Building weights more than twice the annual waste and could fill 400,000 Olympic pools with water it uses.
It will take more creativity if the organization is also to drop single-use cups. MacKerron speculates that, if Starbucks ever decides to suspend offering single use container, it can have a program in the future that would allow customer deposit to “backup.” Yet he applauds the company for testing new ways of working at the risk of losing the ease of receptacles for consumers. “There are a lot of positive signs of being very serious about this, of being prepared to take a bit closer look at it,” MacKerron said in a statement.