Hopefully you have noticed (and used!) the new recycling/composting bins in Seattle Starbucks stores, or maybe saw the news stories after our media event in our Belltown store, introducing the program. We’ve just finished rolling the program out to all stores in the city, after collaborating with the City of Seattle and other local stakeholders to implement a comprehensive recycling and composting program that includes front-of-store collection. We’ve worked with our recyclers to ensure that all of our cups and lids are recyclable in Seattle, while napkins, food waste, and stir sticks go into composting. In our stores, we estimate that recycling and composting can divert up to 87% of the waste in the front of house trash! Overall across all Seattle businesses, the ordinance is expected to divert 6,000 tons of packaging and food waste – enough to fill a 100-car train – from the landfill to recycling and composting services each year.
Starbucks goal is to implement front-of-store recycling in all of its company-owned locations by 2015 where recycling is available. In late 2009, we introduced front-of-store recycling in Toronto, and San Francisco, and now Seattle as well. We’re also planning some tests in New York City and Chicago and several other cities – watch here for more details! The main difficulty as we move forward is the lack of recycling in some cities as well as the variability of what’s recycled. In order to help improve local recycling infrastructures, Starbucks is working with a wide range of stakeholders, including municipalities, packaging manufacturers, recyclers, peer retail and beverage partners, NGOs, and academic experts, to expand recycling and increase what is accepted.
At the same time, we are working hard on increasing the use of for-here ceramic mugs and customer tumblers, because not using a cup at all is even better than recycling it. In 2009 we served more than 26 million beverages in reusable cups in our company-owned stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This simple shift in behavior kept nearly 1.2 million pounds of paper from ending up in landfills. On April 15th we gave away more than a million cups of free coffee to customers who brought reusable tumblers into our stores. For some perspective, if these customers did this every day, for an entire year, we could save nearly 170,000 trees. We also sponsored the Beta Cup Challenge to solicit great ideas for reduction via an open-source contest. We are looking at all the ideas generated from the contest to see what we might test to increase reusable mug usage.