Pen and paper…

Thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences

Costa Coffee and Starbucks: doing their bit for the environment? March 2, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 10:49 pm
Tags: , , ,

Following on from my post last week re: coffee shops and their ‘eco’ promises, I’m hoping to dig a bit deeper into the policies of Costa and Starbucks and what their targets are in terms of recycling and reducing waste, and whether they are meeting those targets.

On Starbucks ‘Environmental Stewardship’ site, they do list their objectives for recycling and talk about what they’re doing to achieve them. It seems that although they are trying to reduce the waste in-store and improve the ‘recyclability’ of their plastic/paper cups, they do suggest that some of the blame lies with local councils:

Hold your local government accountable. If commercial recycling services are not available in your community, encourage local government officials to address the issue. Often the same haulers who pick up residential recycling can provide commercial services too – if the right incentives are provided.

Whilst I don’t dispute this, I feel that maybe the size and ‘power’ of such a large international company means they would have more chance of taking on councils than us mere mortals. I understand that Starbucks can’t rule the roost when it comes to waste disposal and recycling facilities (they are only a coffee shop), but maybe they could make headway in ensuring recycling becomes a priority for commercial organisations.

In relation to ‘greener cups’, Starbucks says:

Our goal is that by 2015 100 percent of our cups will be reusable or recyclable. To help achieve this goal, we’ve made the following commitments:

  • Developing and launching recyclable hot and cold cups by 2012
  • Reducing paper and plastic cup usage in our stores by 25 percent by using reusable mugs instead
  • Having recycling available in our stores
  • Re-establishing glassware or ceramic mugs as our global standard for our customers who enjoy their beverages in our stores

The last point interests me – re-establishing ceramic mugs – does that mean they accept that stores often give out paper cups by default instead of offering ‘sit in’ customers? What is their policy on ‘take away or sit in?’ Is it the customer’s responsibility to ask for a ceramic or paper cup?

Moving on to Costa Coffee, I have emailed them to ask questions about their policies on recycling and waste management and whether or not staff are supposed to ask the ‘take away/sit in’ question. I hope that this will help shed light on whether the issues lie in head office policies or in-store practice. I also hope to speak to our uni cafe manager about the Costa outlet there; being part of the student campus, I see that maybe they just assume that all students will be ‘taking out’ but should they assume?

Anyway, more updates to follow when I get some response!


4 Responses to “Costa Coffee and Starbucks: doing their bit for the environment?”

  1. Wow, 2015 is the least optimistic target I have ever heard, it would surely be little damage to cost or productivity if they changed them all within, say, a year would it?

    • I know, that’s what I thought, and I reckon the data is at least a few years old as it looks like 2008 was the last ‘update’ to be published. So in total they’ve been ‘thinking’ about it for the last 2 years and want another 5 to find a solution!

      I feel this could be a looooooong process!

  2. Perhaps we should be looking at including a “tax” on disposable products purchased from coffee chains, a tax that is set aside to pay for the proper sorting and recycling of the cups used? In essence this would mean that customers are paying to recycle their own paper waste, but the cost would be insignificant on a per-customer basis.

    Robert Daniel
    Paper Cups

    • Your thoughts on a ‘tax’ for recycling cups are interesting Robert – and I think may be there could be some system introduced that would ensure coffee chains do recycle paper cups. Whether or not that should fall on the customer picking up the ‘tax’ charge is another question, or whether chains should be taking a greater responsibility?

      Definately an area for thought though, thanks for your comments.

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