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Starbucks unveils ambitious sustainability commitment

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has announced a multi-decade commitment to be a “resource-positive” company – aspiring to give more than it takes from the planet.

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of Starbucks in 2021, we are looking ahead with a heightened sense of urgency and conviction that we must challenge ourselves, think bigger and do much more in partnership with others to take care of the planet we share,” said Johnson. “By embracing a longer-term economic, equitable and planetary value for our company, we will create greater value for all stakeholders.”

The firm released plans to expand plant-based options, migrating toward a more environmentally friendly menu, as well as shift from single-use to reusable packaging. It also intends to invest in “innovative and regenerative agricultural practices, reforestation, forest conservation and water replenishment in Starbucks supply chain”.

Furthermore, Starbucks is committing to making investments in better ways to manage waste, both in its stores and its communities, to ensure more reuse, recycling and elimination of food waste. It will also develop more eco-friendly stores, operations, manufacturing and delivery processes.

Johnson also outlined three preliminary targets for 2030, including a 50-per-cent reduction in carbon emissions in Starbucks direct operations and supply chain; a 50-per-cent conservation or replenishment of water withdrawal for direct operations and coffee production with a focus on communities and basins with high water risk; and a 50-per-cent reduction in waste sent to landfill from stores and manufacturing.

“It is encouraging to see Starbucks embrace a data-driven and team-driven approach to creating a resource positive future,” said strategic consultancy firm SustainAbility’s executive director Mark Lee. “Their most senior leadership was directly involved in the creation of this plan, and they did an outstanding job convening experts in the field in the course of its development, inviting them to help Starbucks dream big on what’s possible for the planet. This puts Starbucks in the vanguard of corporate sustainability leaders, and we hope more businesses will be inspired to develop similarly robust approaches to addressing the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.”

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