Starbucks to phase out single-use plastics as part of wider 2030 sustainability goals
23 Jan 2020 --- Starbucks’ CEO, Kevin Johnson, has unveiled the company’s new sustainability goals which notably include moving away from single-use plastics and toward more efficient waste management. The announcement comes as sustainability is on the agenda as Davos 2020 and a global anti-single-use plastics sentiment continues to grow. Starbucks also pledged to expand its plant-based offerings and slash water usage in half. To achieve this, the company will join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment alongside major players, such as Nestlé, Unilever and Pepsico.
“Starbucks will design any single-use packaging item for recyclability, and we are focused on reusable packaging programs to help reduce impacts on our waste infrastructure. We are also on track to meet our year-end goal to eliminate the use of plastic straws globally,” a Starbucks spokesperson tells PackagingInsights.
“This is a global commitment across our company and business units, including our licensed and franchised stores and markets as active contributors. Starbucks will work closely with our channel development partners over time to ensure the manufacturing and production of Starbucks products align with our commitments and deliver on our targets across carbon, water and waste,” the spokesperson adds.
Single Use Plastics Directive (SUDP) and an urgent need to decrease plastic waste, the Chinese government recently announced it plans to phase out single-use plastics by 2025 across the country. In the US, policy seems lax on the matter, however, companies like Starbucks and Unilever are making efforts to cut back. There is some opposition however, with Coca-Cola supporting that it will not stop using plastic bottles as it is “what consumers want” at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this week.Major companies, especially in the FMCG space are slowly realizing their crucial part in the move away from plastics and plastic waste. Governments worldwide have already made moves to eliminate such waste by banning single-use plastics. Inspired by the European
Dropping single-use plastic packaging is more difficult than it appears and alternative options may come with hurdles such as increased cost and reducing convenience. Starbucks says it has figured both these aspects out.
“We’re testing strategies related to reusables in a variety of markets and look to share more in the coming months. We are committed to making our materials compostable and recyclable, but we know that ultimately, we need to enable consumers everywhere to move to reusable cups and utensils,” the spokesperson says.
There are many factors that contribute to pricing decisions, including various operating and occupancy expenses. “We are continually evaluating pricing on a product-by-product and market-by-market basis, which allows us to balance the need to run our business profitably while continuing to serve our customers,” the spokesperson explains.
Beverage and food prices vary by location and customers can find pricing posted in-store or through the Starbucks mobile app. In the past year, Starbucks increased prices 1-2 percent which is on par with industry practices and below food-away-from-home inflation which is 2.2 to 2.8 percent, the spokesperson adds.
“As we move forward, we will be transparent in reporting short- and long-term progress against our goals. We’re starting by setting three preliminary targets for 2030 that will be the focus of our research and operational plans over this next year,” Johnson says.
These targets are:
- 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions in direct operations and supply chain.
- 50 percent of water withdrawal for direct operations and coffee production will be conserved or replenished.
- 50 percent reduction in waste sent to landfill from stores and manufacturing, driven by a broader shift toward a circular economy.
Johnson notes that the company will formalize its 2030 environmental goals based on what it has learned in the meantime, on Starbucks’ 50th anniversary in 2021. Specifically, this year Starbucks will conduct comprehensive market research and trials to better understand consumer behavior and incentives to encourage consumer use of reusable containers. Working in collaboration with experts and advocates, this research will help inform aspirational and attainable reusability goals in various markets and globally by next year, he says.
“We know that leadership in sustainability takes commitment, investment, innovation, partnership and time. Today, more than ever, the world needs leadership in environmental sustainability,” Johnson says.
“A consensus of scientific experts notes that without drastic action from everyone, adapting to the impact of climate change in the future will be far more difficult and costly, taking a toll on our supply chains, our business, and more importantly, the lives of everyone involved,” he concludes.
By Kristiana Lalou
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