Starbucks Coffee, Social Impact, Consumption
Starbucks may often be viewed as one of many big corporations that are sucking the marrow from what limited resources we have on Earth with little thought of its actions. This thought however typically comes from those not willing to actually give them a chance. As college students and a university (PLNU) we consume lots of coffee and most of it is from Starbucks or the Starbucks owned company Seattle’s Best. It is because of this role in our lives as students and our consumption habits that it is important to see what social/environmental impact Starbucks is having.
Starbucks has done a lot in the past years as to ensure that they are playing a role in the green movement. Sarah Lozanova posted an Article on Greenbiz.com entitled Starbucks Coffee: Green or Greenwashed that addresses Starbucks and its environmental impact. What Lozanova was trying to reach was a conclusion on if the criticism that Starbucks has received in the past years is warranted or not. One interesting thing stated in this article is “ the coffee industry itself is inherently unsustainable.” Lorenza then goes on to talk about how coffee growing practices are not sustainable due to large quantity of coffee demanded and the vulnerable lands that it is often grown on.
One point of issue that is raised when discussing the impact Starbucks has on the environment is the billions of non-recyclable cups disposed of annually. In response to this dire need to limit waste Starbucks has set a goal of serving 5% of its drinks in reusable cups. In order to better reach this goal, Starbucks has started selling $1 reusable cups in their stores. Every year Starbucks produces a Global Responsibility Report and that is where these past two points of addressing need for the issue with cups has been listed. In 2012 Starbucks served only 1.5% of its drinks in reusable cups, and yet this accounted for 35.8 million orders. By increasing this percentage to 5% one can only assume that they would be saving 100 million cups.
Another issue that comes with being such a huge corporation is the energy use and water consumption accounted for in stores. This is brought up in Lozanova’s article which brings us to Starbucks working with the U.S. Green Building Council in order to create LEED certified stores. This new initiative can be found both in the Global Responsibility Report and in a presentation made by Geoffrey Painter, Sr. Design Manager for Starbucks. In his presentation entitled Starbucks and Leed Painter discusses how Starbucks is working with the U.S. Green Building Council in order to reduce the impact their stores have. As of Painter’s presentation Starbucks had 247 LEED certified stores in 18 countries, with 10 more stores pending certification. According to their Responsibility Report Starbucks has the goal of building all new stores to meet LEED certification and are in progress to reaching that goal. Lastly, Painter discussed a new store model that is built out of old shipping containers and the benefits of not only that but also other innovative ideas that can be integrated in stores.
At the end of Lozanova’s article sums it up saying that Starbucks is doing well in some places and has room for improvement in others. Based on the above article/presentation/reports it would stand that Starbucks may not be the big corporation sucking life from our Earth, but rather a fairly socially/environmentally conscious one that is trying not only to address their impacts but also pave the way for others to follow.