Cup Summit in Seattle

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.

Recycling
posted by deetfind



Suite2100
6/9/2009 4:25 PM

Sue - thanks for the frank summary of where you are on cup recycling. For me it is the most prominent recycling related issue at Starbucks given the volume of cups you go through and the way it ties to the total experience.  Look forward to hearing more about these efforts over time and how you progress toward the goals you set. My recycle bin at home sits waiting for the cups when they are available - where now they go in my trash.

Atreyu
6/21/2009 7:31 PM

Why use double cups when one cup made correctly can eliminate the added waste?  We recycle all our cups and anything allowable to be recycled, yet reducing the need to recycle by having less products are always the better choice.  Using re-useable plastic cups - like the double-walled plastic cup for cold drinks is nice, a good start

UrbanVoy
6/23/2009 2:05 PM

hi sue

What a great action!  This is the kind of thinking and cooperation that will change the way everyone looks at recycling and hopefully put and end to the finger pointing and "magic bullet" solutions. I hope yopu include NYC as one of the test areas.

I think between the strong initiatives in city government, the urban studies centers at NYU, CUNY and Columbia and existing recycling infrastructure, you could get a lot of support.  

I hope your work with this group takes off. Thanks for the update.

Phil_in_SF
7/21/2009 11:03 AM

Wow, a summit to have a recyclable cup in 3 years.  Is that the Seattle equivalent of a Congressional working group?

And a nice way to turn Starbucks' lack of leadership on this issue into a way to blame local municipalities for differing regulations.   Do you really think that Starbucks (or is it Pass-the-Buck?) is the only one facing that kind of challenge?

GreenMineGuy
8/3/2009 8:41 AM

Sue - I also thank you for the update, but a goal of 2012 seems a far way off especially given smaller competitors of yours are already using a cup that can be composted and uses more than 10% post-consumer recycled content.

NoCofeeNoWorke
11/16/2009 12:50 PM

I hope the leaky-cup frustration experienced by so many Starbucks drinkers is captured as a priority for any cup redesign.  I used to think the environmental angle was great.  Until I started spending triple the amount I usually spend on dry-cleaning to get the coffee out of my suits!!!  Please fix the leaky cup problem before 2012!

Name of the blog
12/2/2010 5:39 PM

Used Paper Cups Become New Again

Name of the blog
12/2/2010 5:42 PM

Used Paper Cups Become New Again

joleensmitty
3/29/2014 10:44 PM

Creating compostable and recyclable cups for people would be unethical? Or unprofitable? I think that the use of oil for plastics and knowing that there are alternatives out there is unethical. As an employee working in Chicago and now at Boulder Colorado, I would think that more people out here would recycle and bring in their own cups because Boulder is "Greener". Well, I can tell you that  even my coworkers who aren't leaving the store... don't even think about using a for here glass.

   I think that if Starbucks changed their cups to a naturally biodegradable cup, where even in landfills, it would breakdown faster than the plastics they have now, it would bring awareness to everyone. A company with this much publicity and influence on the public, should be realizing that the community cleanups we do, cleaning the river and such, that Starbucks gives donations for, could be actually raising awareness about litter, recycling, brining in your own cup, and actually provide recycling for every store, for the lobby. Some of the coolest and best places in Boulder have these compostable cups, actually...every fast food place except mcdonalds stbx and burger king, everywhere in Boulder...   When I started working at this new store, I got on all my employees asses about using glassware to not only save product, but to be a part of the solution. And most customers don't even knew we had for here glassware. I restarted up recycling at my Starbucks now and just being one person behind the apron...I feel like I've influenced so many people to open their eyes about the extreme amount of plastics that starbucks hands out every day and how many people just want a plastic cup of water. thats thrown out in 18 seconds. Something needs to change and right now, it doesn't look like its gunna be the customers.

joleensmitty
3/29/2014 10:44 PM

Creating compostable and recyclable cups for people would be unethical? Or unprofitable? I think that the use of oil for plastics and knowing that there are alternatives out there is unethical. As an employee working in Chicago and now at Boulder Colorado, I would think that more people out here would recycle and bring in their own cups because Boulder is "Greener". Well, I can tell you that  even my coworkers who aren't leaving the store... don't even think about using a for here glass.

   I think that if Starbucks changed their cups to a naturally biodegradable cup, where even in landfills, it would breakdown faster than the plastics they have now, it would bring awareness to everyone. A company with this much publicity and influence on the public, should be realizing that the community cleanups we do, cleaning the river and such, that Starbucks gives donations for, could be actually raising awareness about litter, recycling, brining in your own cup, and actually provide recycling for every store, for the lobby. Some of the coolest and best places in Boulder have these compostable cups, actually...every fast food place except mcdonalds stbx and burger king, everywhere in Boulder...   When I started working at this new store, I got on all my employees asses about using glassware to not only save product, but to be a part of the solution. And most customers don't even knew we had for here glassware. I restarted up recycling at my Starbucks now and just being one person behind the apron...I feel like I've influenced so many people to open their eyes about the extreme amount of plastics that starbucks hands out every day and how many people just want a plastic cup of water. thats thrown out in 18 seconds. Something needs to change and right now, it doesn't look like its gunna be the customers.

joleensmitty
3/29/2014 10:45 PM

Creating compostable and recyclable cups for people would be unethical? Or unprofitable? I think that the use of oil for plastics and knowing that there are alternatives out there is unethical. As an employee working in Chicago and now at Boulder Colorado, I would think that more people out here would recycle and bring in their own cups because Boulder is "Greener". Well, I can tell you that  even my coworkers who aren't leaving the store... don't even think about using a for here glass.

   I think that if Starbucks changed their cups to a naturally biodegradable cup, where even in landfills, it would breakdown faster than the plastics they have now, it would bring awareness to everyone. A company with this much publicity and influence on the public, should be realizing that the community cleanups we do, cleaning the river and such, that Starbucks gives donations for, could be actually raising awareness about litter, recycling, brining in your own cup, and actually provide recycling for every store, for the lobby. Some of the coolest and best places in Boulder have these compostable cups, actually...every fast food place except mcdonalds stbx and burger king, everywhere in Boulder...   When I started working at this new store, I got on all my employees asses about using glassware to not only save product, but to be a part of the solution. And most customers don't even knew we had for here glassware. I restarted up recycling at my Starbucks now and just being one person behind the apron...I feel like I've influenced so many people to open their eyes about the extreme amount of plastics that starbucks hands out every day and how many people just want a plastic cup of water. thats thrown out in 18 seconds. Something needs to change and right now, it doesn't look like its gunna be the customers.

joleensmitty
3/29/2014 10:45 PM

Creating compostable and recyclable cups for people would be unethical? Or unprofitable? I think that the use of oil for plastics and knowing that there are alternatives out there is unethical. As an employee working in Chicago and now at Boulder Colorado, I would think that more people out here would recycle and bring in their own cups because Boulder is "Greener". Well, I can tell you that  even my coworkers who aren't leaving the store... don't even think about using a for here glass.

   I think that if Starbucks changed their cups to a naturally biodegradable cup, where even in landfills, it would breakdown faster than the plastics they have now, it would bring awareness to everyone. A company with this much publicity and influence on the public, should be realizing that the community cleanups we do, cleaning the river and such, that Starbucks gives donations for, could be actually raising awareness about litter, recycling, brining in your own cup, and actually provide recycling for every store, for the lobby. Some of the coolest and best places in Boulder have these compostable cups, actually...every fast food place except mcdonalds stbx and burger king, everywhere in Boulder...   When I started working at this new store, I got on all my employees asses about using glassware to not only save product, but to be a part of the solution. And most customers don't even knew we had for here glassware. I restarted up recycling at my Starbucks now and just being one person behind the apron...I feel like I've influenced so many people to open their eyes about the extreme amount of plastics that starbucks hands out every day and how many people just want a plastic cup of water. thats thrown out in 18 seconds. Something needs to change and right now, it doesn't look like its gunna be the customers.


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