Starbucks is one of the world’s most popular coffee chains. With over 31,000 stores worldwide and 400,000 partners serving 100 million customers a week, they have a big impact on coffee drinking habits and the environment.
Starbucks has announced that it has set a goal to reduce its carbon, water, and waste by 50% over the next ten years, reaching its target by 2030. This “bold, multi-decade aspiration” includes a commitment to also give back to the planet by becoming a resource positive company. Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson says, “Our aspiration is to become resource positive – storing more carbon than we emit, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than we use. This aspiration is grounded in Starbucks mission. By embracing a longer-term economic, equitable, and planetary value proposition for our company, we will create greater value for all stakeholders.”
This goal includes a promise of transparency. Starbucks has committed to working with its partners, customers, and other stakeholders providing open reporting against its short- and long-term goals. “Our eyes are wide open knowing that we do not have all the answers or fully understand all the complexities and potential consequences,” Johnson wrote. “Now, it’s time to create an even broader aspiration – and it’s work that will require visionary thinking, new ways of working, investment of resource and urgent action.”
There are five important things to know about Starbucks’ announcement:
1. Starbucks is committed to halving its carbon emissions, waste output, and water impact while continuing to grow its business. The commitment includes three primary targets, all to be reached by 2030. First, Starbucks aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 50%. Second, it aims to reduce the waste it sends to landfills from stores and manufacturing by 50%. This target will be driven by a broader shift toward a circular economy, reusing as many resources as possible. Third, Starbucks will aim to conserve or replenish 50% of the water currently being used for direct operations and coffee production.
2. Starbucks has long used science-based research to assess its progress. It has also released a comprehensive environmental footprint of carbon emissions, water use, and waste in Starbucks global operations and supply chain. This report, gathered in partnership with Quantis and World Wildlife Fund will serve as a baseline for measuring the company’s progress towards their environmental goals. Starbucks is committed to transparent reporting of its progress.
3. Starbucks is exploring multiple options for reaching its environmental impact including moving towards more plant-based foods and beverages and offering more reusable options. The company is also looking at investing in innovative agricultural, water conservation and reforestation practices; looking for ways to better manage waste (including food waste) in stores and in communities; and developing more eco-friendly operations, from stores to supply chain to manufacturing.
4. Over the years, Starbucks has laid the groundwork for this kind of commitment. The company has partnered with other organizations and invested in ways to bring sustainable practices to scale, including the Starbucks FoodShare program, NextGen Cup Challenge, becoming a leader in L.E.E.D. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) stores, investments in renewable energy, and a goal to eliminate plastic straws by the end of 2020. It has also spent two decades, in partnership with Conservation International, to achieve the milestone of sourcing 99% of coffee ethically through C.A.F.E. (Coffee and Farmer Equity) practices. Research shows that implementing C.A.F.E. practices over the years has more than halved what the company’s carbon footprint would have otherwise been. “This pledge to become ‘resource positive’ is bold and necessary – exactly what I’ve come to expect from Starbucks,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, chief executive officer of Conservation International. “For more than two decades, Conservation International has partnered with Starbucks to source coffee in ways that are good for the people and the planet. We succeeded – today, 99% of Starbucks is ethically sourced.”
5. Starbucks partners are mobilizing for change in increasing numbers. More than 18,000 partners have enrolled in Starbucks’ “Greener Apron” course on sustainability and environmental stewardship in the last two years, and the number continues to grow.
This sustainability announcement is an important moment for Starbucks, said Sheila Bonini, senior vice president leading private sector engagement for the World Wildlife Fund, the world’s leading conservation organization. Bonini said a lot of companies make environmental commitments, but what excites her most are the moments down the road when those companies get to celebrate each step toward meeting those goals.
“I’m impressed with Starbucks leadership – with their ambitious strategy to tackle sustainability as well as their humility and willingness to look at all parts of the business to try to achieve it,” Bonini said. “We are already starting to see some catastrophic effects of climate change. It’s clear our level of consumption and production today is more than the planet can take. We all need to address it. We need to address it yesterday.”
She believes it’s important for companies to not only make it easier for people to act sustainably, but to help them understand why it’s important.
“People want to be green, but we have to help them get there,” she said. “We’re all partners in this.”
Visit stories.starbucks.ca/en/stories/sustainability to stay up-to-date about Starbucks commitment to environmental sustainability.