SEATTLE – May 11, 2009 – Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) today announced plans to host a summit comprised of representatives from all facets of its paper and plastic cup value chain at the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle on Tuesday, May 12, 2009. With the goal of prioritization and agreement on criteria for a comprehensive recyclable cup solution, discussions will address obstacles and opportunities. This effort is an extension of Starbucks long-term commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its cups. Currently, Starbucks is working to ensure all of its single-use cups will be recyclable by 2012 in communities where its stores are located.
The summit will be moderated by Peter Senge, Ph.D., senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL). Senge is best known as the pioneer of systems thinking – a problem-solving approach that analyzes how the various segments of a system are interconnected, with a focus on dynamic wholes rather than static parts.
“The development of recyclable and compostable materials is one of many factors in this complex equation. You have to consider the entire life span of the cup – including what happens after it leaves the consumer’s hands,” said Senge. “Starbucks holistic approach has the potential to make a significant impact on not only its company operations, but on the entire foodservice industry.”
Summit delegates will include raw materials suppliers, cup manufacturers and converters, peer retail and beverage partners, recyclers, local municipal governments, Starbucks partners (employees), environmental NGOs, and other experts from the academic sector.
“We are taking this step to drive meaningful dialogue with an unprecedented cross-section of stakeholders who have the expertise and infrastructure to create a fundamental shift in the entire packaging industry,” said Ben Packard, Starbucks vice president of Global Responsibility. “With this initial meeting, we hope to foster collaboration and define the specific actions that will allow us to achieve our goal of 100 percent recyclable cups.”
Starbucks commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its cups dates back to the late 1990s, when the company established a relationship with the Environmental Defense Fund. In 1997, Starbucks introduced the recycled-content cup sleeve as a way to reduce “double cupping.” After five years of supplier engagement and efforts to secure government approval, in 2006 Starbucks launched the industry’s first paper beverage cup containing post-consumer recycled fiber (PCF). Since that time, the switch to PCF cups at Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada has saved more than 44,000 tons of virgin wood fiber, the equivalent of more than 300,000 trees. Currently, paper beverage cups cannot be recycled in many recycling systems.
Last year, Starbucks replaced its industry-standard polyethylene terephthalate (PET) cold cup with a polypropylene (PP) alternative in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. This change was the result of a study by external lifecycle scientists who calculated that PP cups use 15 percent less plastic than PET cups and emit 45 percent fewer greenhouse gases during their production. Unlike PET cups, PP cups do not contaminate other PP containers when co-mingled for recycling. While PET bottles are widely recyclable, PET cups are difficult to recycle in most communities.
In addition to implementing a recyclable cup strategy, Starbucks is simultaneously encouraging reusable options. Since 1985, the company has rewarded customers in participating stores who bring in their own travel tumblers with a $0.10 discount off the price of their beverages. Starbucks also provides ceramic mugs at participating stores for customers who opt to enjoy their beverages inside the coffeehouse.
To learn more about Starbucks™ Shared Planet™, the company’s commitment to ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and community involvement, visit starbucks.com/sharedplanet.