Starbucks made another move towards investing in green energy today when it announced a partnership with solar company Cypress Creek Renewables. In a post on the coffee giant’s Stories site, Starbucks noted that the two companies, along with U.S. bank, are “teaming up on a portfolio of farms across Texas.” The partnership includes two solar farms that will power 360 Starbucks stores across Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, and Arlington.
The post also noted that Starbucks is investing in six other Cypress-owned solar farms in Texas, and predicts that the eight total farms will reduce the company’s total carbon footprint by 101,000 tons annually.
The Seattle-based coffee retailer isn’t new to solar initiatives. In April 2017, Starbucks invested in NC-47, solar farm in North Carolina to power around 600 Starbucks locations in that state as well as Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. In September of 2018, Starbucks announced its Greener Stores initiative, which, among other things, aims to power all stores with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. That includes solar as well as wind — in November of 2018, the company invested in an Illinois wind farm to power almost 350 of its locations.
Starbucks isn’t alone, either, in its plans to ramp up the sustainable side of business, for which the year 2025 is shaping up to be the key date for big-name quick-service brands. Wendy’s has its Squarely Sustainable program, which so far has included using more energy-efficient kitchen equipment and HVAC systems. The company also plans to reduce its overall energy usage by 20 percent by 2025. KFC will convert its packaging to renewable plastic sources, also by 2025. Meanwhile, McDonald’s has said it will source 100 percent of its packaging from renewable materials by, yep, 2025, and Dunkin’ has said it will do away with polystyrene cups by next year.
What will become clearer in future is which of these areas will help quick-service chains make the most positive impact on sustainability. From the perspective of a consumer, it’s easier to see that impact in compostable coffee cups and cutlery as replacements for polystyrene and plastic. Renewables are trickier in that they are a) harder for customers to “see” and b) have a long way to go in meeting long-term climate and sustainability goals. However, that doesn’t make them any less important, and as we inch towards 2025, we’ll see more of these initiatives from more chains, both in the U.S. and globally.