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Starbucks Reveals Sustainability Progress and Challenges

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March 29, 2012

Seattle-based Starbucks’ 2011 Global Responsibility Report shows significant strides on goals the company outlined in 2008, as well as some areas where it has been particularly challenged.

Starbucks recycling imageIn a single year Starbucks more than tripled the availability of in-store recycling, now in more than 18 percent (more than 1,000) of stores in the U.S. in Canada, a threefold improvement over the prior year. Starbucks continues to support local market testing and implementation to accelerate future front-of-store recycling.

While Starbucks had many wins to report, the one area of backslide was water conservation. Although in-store water consumption has decreased more than 17 percent since 2008, water use increased 5 percent in 2011over the prior year. While some of the increase in water consumption was due to higher beverage sales, water consumption was primarily driven by a change in the blender pitcher rinsing processes, according to Starbucks. The company said it is taking proactive steps to address these issues.

The company has also struggled to meet the goal it set in 2008 on reusable cups, and as a result is resetting its goals for this program. Although Starbucks served more than 34 million beverages (1.89 percent) in reusable cups in 2011, it is resetting its goal of 25 percent of beverages made in reusable cups to 5 percent of beverages by 2015.

Starbucks exceeded or is on track to meet several of its goals in a number of key areas:

  • LEED certified stores: Starbucks is now building 75 percent of new company-owned stores to achieve LEED certification, working toward a goal of 100 percent.
  • Renewable energy: In 2010, Starbucks set a new goal to make 100percent of the electricity used in global company-owned stores renewable energy equivalent by 2015. In 2011 Starbucks purchased the equivalent of 50 percent.
  • Energy conservation: Starbucks continues to make progress against its goal for 25 percent energy reduction over 2008 levels by 2015, and has reached a 7.5 percent total decrease in 2011 over the 2008 baseline.
  •  Coffee purchasing: Increased purchases of coffee sourced under C.A.F.E. Practices from 84 percent to 86 percent in 2011.
  • Farmer support: Starbucks provided $14.7 million to organizations that make loans to coffee farmers, working toward a goal of $20 million by 2015.
  • Forest carbon programs: Continued work in coffee-growing communities in Chiapas, Mexico and Sumatra, Indonesia through Starbucks partnership with Conservation International, demonstrating how coffee farmers can adapt to and address climate change while increasing their income.
  • Recyclable cup solution: Starbucks said it is making progress toward its goal of developing comprehensive recycling solutions for paper and plastic cups by the end of 2012. Advanced recycling initiatives with the Third Cup Summit and the formation of the Paper Recovery Alliance with the Food Packaging Institute.

“While our progress is certainly significant thanks to the commitment of our partners and the communities we serve, we recognize there’s room for improvement. These are bold goals and we are focused in our approach,” said Ben Packard, vice president of global responsibility. “By leveraging our scale for good, we can continue to make progress on major societal issues through innovation, customer engagement and policy leadership.”


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