Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson announced in a letter Tuesday that the company aspires to become resource positive within the next decade.
To meet that aspiration, Johnson set three goals for Starbucks: reducing carbon emissions from its direct operations and supply chain by half; replenishing half of its water usage with a focus on “communities and basins with high water risk;” and a 50 percent reduction in its waste sent to landfills from its stores and manufacturing facilities. As part of that last goal, Johnson announced it is joining the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.
Starbucks has a lot of work ahead. The company, according to its own estimates, is responsible for 1 percent of all paper and plastic cups in the world, or 6 billion cups. It currently operates more than 28,000 stores across the world.
As part of the pledge, Starbucks announced “five environmental strategies that will begin to move us toward a resource-positive future”: expanding plant-based options; shifting from single-use to reusable packaging; investing in “innovative and regenerative agricultural practices, reforestation, forest conservation and water replenishment” in its supply chain; investing in better ways to manage its waste; and developing innovations for more eco-friendly stores, operations, manufacturing and delivery.
“We agree with the consensus of scientific experts who note that without drastic action from everyone — governments, companies and all of us as individuals — adapting to the impact of climate change in the future will be far more difficult and costly,” Johnson wrote, “taking a toll on our supply chains, our business, and more importantly, the lives of everyone involved, including coffee farmers, our suppliers, Starbucks partners, customers and every community we serve.”
Johnson wrote that the company doesn’t have all the answers, and called on parties including entrepreneurs and its partners and customers to provide innovations and ideas.
Starbucks is among one of the biggest restaurant companies by revenue, and one of the largest to pledge to reduce its contributions to global warming causing emissions and pollution. McDonald’s and Taco Bell have also set ambitious sustainability goals. Drastic change is needed if we’re going to stem the worst effects of climate change, and business leaders’ commitment to the cause is both necessary and welcome, especially as world leaders continue to be dismissive of the threat life on the planet faces.