Starbucks today announced that it will cut greenhouse gas emissions and landfills in half over the next decade,media reported. The company also promised that by 2030, 50 percent of the water needed to operate and produce coffee would be saved or replenished. In addition, the company has unveiled a longer-term strategy for being greener, such as switching to reusable packaging and adding more plant-based products to its menu.
But the company has not set a deadline for these initiatives, nor has it given details on how it will achieve its goals. Next year is the 50th anniversary of Starbucks, which plans to release more details about its environmental goals.
“As with most things worth doing, it’s not easy,” Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ chief executive, wrote in a letter announcing the company’s new environmental commitments. He added that success requires “transformational change” and that customers need to play a role.
Conrad MacKerron, vice president of Shareholder Advocacy at As You Sow, says that in the future, Starbucks customers in more than 70 countries may find that they need to pay for one-time cups. In 2018, Starbucks tested the strategy in the UK and found that charging 5p for a one-off paper cup and a 25p reusable paper cup reward increased the penetration rate of hot drinks served by reusable paper cups from 2.2 per cent to 5.8 per cent. Starbucks said it would look at ways to get more customers to use reusable cups next year.
Clearly, Starbucks has a long way to go to reduce its environmental impact. The company emits about the equivalent of about 14 coal-fired power plants a year, almost as much as other big companies such as Microsoft. The annual waste it produces is more than twice the weight of the Empire State Building, and the water used can fill 400,000 Olympic-standard swimming pools.
It is hoped that Starbucks’ promise will be different from previous attempts. Mac Kerron points out that the pressure is much greater this time than it was in 2008. Over the past decade, growing plastic pollution has led to a campaign to eliminate disposable plastics such as straws. By the end of this year, Starbucks is expected to phase out plastic straws worldwide. To address the lack of plastic straws, Starbucks has introduced a straight drink cup lid.