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Starbucks Promises Resource Positive Operations


Starbucks Promises Resource Positive Operations


Written by Gemma Alexander

In late January 2020, Starbucks announced a commitment to become a resource-positive company – that is, a company that eliminates more greenhouse gases than it emits, and that generates more clean water than it uses.

It’s an ambitious goal with a decades-long timeline that companies have only recently begun to pursue, and none yet claim to have achieved. Without science-based targets, clear guidelines for achievement, and transparency about progress, many corporate claims about net-positive operations are just greenwashing. How does Starbucks’ commitment stack up?

Baseline Report

Many companies fail right out of the gate because they either don’t know or refuse to share, information about their actual environmental impacts.

Progress can’t be made without a baseline to measure improvement against. Starbucks seems to have accomplished this first step properly. The same week that Starbucks announced its resource-positive aspiration, it released an environmental baseline report produced in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund.

Starbucks’ report used 2018 data from the company’s global operations to calculate waste, water, and carbon footprints. They looked at the entire life cycle of their products and operations, from farming practices to packaging disposed outside of stores by customers. For calculating their carbon footprint, they followed the methodology of the World Resources Institute Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

The key findings of the report define Starbucks’ baseline for the three footprints:

  • Carbon footprint: 16 million tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions
  • Water footprint: 1 billion cubic meters of water used
  • Waste footprint: 868 kilotons of waste generated (which also contribute 1.3 million tons of GHGs to the carbon footprint above)
Dairy products, at 21 percent, are by far the largest contributor to the company’s greenhouse gas emissions. Starbucks serves more milk every day than it does coffee. The company’s water use likewise took place mostly along the supply chain, particularly raising the coffee crop. And one-fifth of Starbucks’ water footprint resulted from agricultural activities in the production of non-coffee beverages. Dairy production contributed an additional 15 percent of water use.
In contrast, waste was primarily generated at the retail stage. More than half of all Starbucks-generated waste leaves its stores with customers. Eighty-five percent of that waste is the packaging in which drinks and food are delivered.

Read the full article at Earth911


Feature image by oberaichwald from Pixabay

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