You may have heard about the Cup Summit that was just held in Boston – over 100 people involved in the supply chain of our cups gathered together to brainstorm how to reach our goal of a recyclable cup by 2015. It was an amazing experience to watch a room full of people, many of whom had never met, become so engaged in problem solving, even though some of them are direct competitors. It was in no small part due to the inspiring guidance from Peter Senge and the team of systems graduate students from MIT, who facilitated the meeting. Helping us to “bring the system into the room” enabled everyone to see how we could come up with ways to achieve our goals together.
Starbucks goal is to have a recyclable cup by 2015 – and that means actually recycled. “We know we can’t solve this problem simply by purchasing cups that are labeled ‘recyclable’ or ‘compostable,’” said Jim Hanna, Starbucks director of Environmental Impact. “We have to ensure our customers actually have access to recycling services at their homes, at work, and in our stores. We’ll only be successful if the various businesses and organizations that touch this issue are aligned and equally motivated to take action.”. Given that we have over 16,000 stores in 50 countries, this is not as simple as you might think. “This is a complex problem that will not be solved overnight, however initiatives like Starbucks cup summit are moving the dialogue in the right direction,” said Peter Senge, senior lecturer at MIT and founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL). “The company’s holistic approach has the potential to make a significant impact on the entire foodservice industry.” However, the good news is we’ve already made progress, with our cups recyclable in Ontario, Canada, San Francisco, and soon Seattle, among other places. And the ideas generated at the Cup Summit will build on this momentum.
Brad @starbucks, Jim @Jim_Starbucks, and several participants were tweeting the event #cupsummit2010, which was held in the new Media Lab space at MIT (http://www.media.mit.edu/) – the amazing things going on there definitely helped spark creativity in the group. Jim and Peter managed to sneak away for a little bit to do a LiveChat session and answer a lot of great questions – see the session here.
Everyone left the summit completely jazzed to work on a lot of great ideas to increase recycling of cups. I am looking forward to working with everyone on all the great initiatives, and we will keep you posted on our progress! Also check out the 2009 Responsibility Report at www.starbucks.com/responsibility.