Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reaching for the Starbucks: Making the Coffee Industry Sustainable

Starbucks, a global coffee phenomenon, is one of the most sustainable companies out there. When I think of Starbucks, I just think of overpriced, acidic coffee with no soul. After learning about their sustainable mission and achievements, I now understand why it is so overpriced (I'm still not keen on its taste, but will complain less about it). It's hard to believe that a company as large as Starbucks actually cares about its impacts on the environment and on society. Starbucks began its path toward sustainability in 2004 by focusing on renewable energy, energy conservation, and climate action and mitigation efforts. On Starbucks website, they mention that they have always been aware of their impacts on the environment and local farms because they depend on them for their business. Their awareness is what is making them a leader in sustainable business practices.

As climate change has become an even greater presence in our lives, Starbucks has increased its role in decreasing its impact on the earth. Starbucks works from on the farm level to the global level on how it should manage its resources from start to finish. Starbucks is dedicated to conservation and buys coffee base on the Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices that ensure that their coffee is coming from sustainable and socially responsible farms. Not only are their resources for their main source of revenue more sustainable, but so are their stores. Starbucks builds its stores based on the LEEDS standards which have high standards for efficiency. Many of their new stores are up to LEEDS standards and they have been working since 2008 on bringing more of their existing stores to these standards. Definitely a step in the right direction.

Starbucks is working towards reducing its impacts on the environment by changing packaging design guidelines, offering reusable cups, advocating for local recycling infrastructure and expanding our customer-facing and behind-the-counter recycling practices. Starbucks understands that the disposal of their cups is reliant on their consumers. They advocate for the use of reusable cups and for their consumers to recycle their cups in recycling bins opposed to trash bins. In their stores, many landlords promote the idea of recycling their plastic and fibrous materials, making the behind the scenes green as well as in the forefront. At the moment, Starbucks is working on programs that will make their manufacturing plants as green as their stores. There are a few more kinks to work out than making their stores greener.

"As a company that relies on agricultural products, we have long been aware that the planet is our most important business partner." -Starbucks

Starbs is ahead of the game. They seem like this massive company that is trying to take over the world, but they actually do some good while they are doing it. This financial powerhouse depends on natural resources to make its profits, so it only makes sense for it to work with instead of against the environment. Kudos to you Starbucks.

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