A top idea on My Starbucks Idea, both from partners and customers, is recyclable cups. This is one of the main reasons we were excited to announce the goal of having a recyclable cup by 2012, in our 2008 Starbucks Global Responsibility report. We recently took a big step towards this goal with our Cup Summit, held on May 12th at the Seattle Support Center. The meeting pulled together key stakeholders in our cup supply chain - paper and plastic manufacturers, cup makers, recyclers, academics working on recyclable materials, nonprofits such as Global Green and GreenBlue who are working to increase recycling, city and state representatives leading the way in recycling, and Starbucks partners who design and buy our cups.
Though hard to believe, this was the first time the entire value chain has been in the same room. Bringing all these various stakeholders together allowed everyone to explore the issues from all points of view. Solid-waste officials recognized that inconsistent municipal regulations are very confusing to consumers and companies, and make a national recycling program very complex. Industry representatives recognized that standing still is not an option, and that leading brands like Starbucks are committing to solve this issue and need their help. All recognized that the solution is not necessarily just about changing the cup materials, but likely involves a combination of strategies: improved recycling systems, development of consistent standards, and material innovation.
While there are some cups available today that some would define as “solutions” such as cups made from corn-based plastics, we must carefully examine the total impact of materials and choose the most optimal solution for minimizing the footprint of the cups, and also consider the availability of recycling or composting services. At Starbucks, we take a hard line here, in that we will never call our cups “recyclable” or “compostable” unless the infrastructure actually exists for our customers to recycle or compost our cups, in their homes, at work and in public spaces. For Starbucks to simply switch our cup materials and tell you that they are now recyclable or compostable, knowing that your community doesn’t accept cups for recycling or doesn’t have access to a specialized commercial compost facility, would be pretty unethical on our part.
The next steps for the stakeholders include setting up an advisory council to guide Starbucks in developing a set of recycling standards for fiber and plastic, evaluating new cup materials, increasing inter-government collaboration to encourage greater consistency in local recycling laws and testing these concepts in 2-3 metropolitan areas around North America
All the attendees of the Cup Summit were very energized by the meeting and look forward to making progress towards the recyclable cup, not just for Starbucks but for the entire industry. We also continue to work on our goal of 25% of cups being reusable by 2015, by increasing use of ceramic mugs in the store or personal travel tumblers when on the go. Stay tuned for reports on our progress.
posted by deetfind