Starbucks is exploring green strategies including expanding its plant-based menu and investing in waste management © SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
Starbucks is exploring green strategies including expanding its plant-based menu and investing in waste management © SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Starbucks aims to be ‘resource positive’

23 January 2020

Starbucks is reviewing its sustainability strategy as it aims to become ‘resource positive’ by storing more carbon than it emits, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than it uses.

In an open letter, Kevin Johnson, CEO of the global coffee chain, outlined a “multi-decade aspiration to become resource positive and give more than we take from the planet”.

Johnson admitted he does “not have all the answers” on how the firm should proceed with its move towards becoming resource positive but said the journey would require “new innovations and creative ideas from entrepreneurs, non-profits, suppliers, licensees, partners, and customers”.

Starbucks has set out three preliminary targets for 2030 including a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from direct operations and supply chains, conservation of 50% of the water it uses, a 50% reduction in waste sent to landfills and a shift to a more circular economy. 

As well as its initial targets, Johnson said the firm had already identified five environmental strategies that would support its long-term aims, including investment in “innovative and regenerative agricultural practices, reforestation, forest conservation and water replenishment in the supply chain”. 

Other areas the firm will explore include expanding its plant-based menu, shifting to reusable packaging, investment in reducing and managing waste and developing eco-friendly stores, operations, and manufacturing. 

“This year we will conduct comprehensive market research and trials to better understand consumer behavior and incentives to encourage consumer use of reusable containers. Working in collaboration with experts and advocates, this research will help inform aspirational and attainable reusability goals in various markets and globally by next year,” Johnson said.  

Following the research, Johnson said Starbucks would formalise its 2030 environmental targets in 2021. 

Greenpeace USA plastics campaigner Kate Melges said while Starbucks reviewing its sustainability strategy was a “welcome development”, the “commitments are light on specifics”. 

“Without more detailed plans on how Starbucks will make this happen, it’s difficult to say the solutions Starbucks pursues will be taking us in the right direction,” she said.  

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched a global One Trillion Trees initiative to grow, restore and conserve trees around the world in a bid to restore biodiversity and fight climate change.

The project, announced at Davos, aims to unite governments, non-governmental organisations, businesses and individuals in a “mass-scale nature restoration”. 

Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the WEF, said: “The next decade must see unprecedented levels of collaboration if we are to meet global climate, biodiversity, and [UN] Sustainable Development Goals. The project presents an important example of how stakeholders from all walks of life and all ages can work together to achieve a single, globally significant goal.”

Separately, a climate advisor to the UK government has said planting up to 120m trees per year could be funded by high polluters such as fossil fuel providers and airlines through a carbon levy.

The Committee on Climate Change also said the rotational burning of grouse moors and the extraction and sale of peat should be banned in order to protect land storing carbon.

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