Inside Starbucks first Greener Store in China


As Starbucks celebrates its 50th Anniversary, the company is expanding its Greener Store Framework to help reduce its environmental impact and leverage its scale for good to accelerate the global movement towards a more sustainable future. Starbucks is opening its first Greener Store outside of North America in Shanghai, China with a focus on circularity. The Shanghai Greener Store has been designed and built to reduce waste, repurpose goods and serve as a platform for future innovation.

Design & Construction – Creating an environmentally-conscious third place:

  • This is the first store outside North America to be certified under the Starbucks Greener Store Framework
  • The Shanghai Greener Store is the first Starbucks store in the Chinese mainland to use recycled and lower-impact building materials such as wood reclaimed from the renovation of other Starbucks stores. It is expected that many aspects of the store interior can be recycled, upcycled or biodegraded.
  • First Starbucks store in the Chinese mainland to feature a Modular Bar and Back-Of-House system that can easily dismantled and reassembled in different configurations to enable reuse and recycling.

Daily Operations – Promoting responsible living through a cup of coffee:

  • In a first for a Starbucks store in the Chinese mainland, the iconic Starbucks green aprons are made from recycled Starbuck PET cups using advanced plastic-to-textile technologies. Each apron achieves approximately one kilogram of carbon reduction in its lifecycle.
  • This is the first Starbucks store in the Chinese mainland to offer Sustainable Coffee Classrooms hosted by Starbucks coffee ambassadors.
  • First Starbucks store in the Chinese mainland to recycle coffee grounds for use as fertilizer.
  • The Shanghai Greener Store is the first Starbucks store in the Chinese mainland to be powered by renewable energy purchased through a nationally certified platform.

Customer Experience – Making sustainability part of everyday lifestyles:

  • First Starbucks store to feature a ‘Circular Lifestyle Lab’ curating sustainability-themed exhibitions from artists advocating for a more sustainable future.
  • Over half of the store menu will be plant-based, including the debut of 15 new food items.
  • Customers without their own cups or tumblers can still do their part with the launch of Grande-sized reusable cup.

Design & Construction – Creating an environmentally-conscious third place

The Shanghai Greener Store uses recycled materials and industry-first responsible materials, achieving a balance between functional use, spatial aesthetics and circularity.

Wood reclaimed from the renovation of the Beijing Sanlitun Taikooli Flagship store were used to craft the countertop of the Experience Bar, steps of the” stadium seating,” as well as door handles, giving material that would have otherwise gone into landfills a new lease of life.

Wood recovered from stores in Shanghai was used to make table tops, while table bases are made from recycled materials combined with recycled red bricks reclaimed from stores.

The Greener Store also features a Modular Bar and Back-Of-House system constructed to enable reuse and recycling. Made of modules for different functions, the modular design allows the store to quickly adjust the bar layout, by adding, removing, or replacing bar modules to achieve different functional combinations such as ordering, beverage production, food display, and more.

The customized setup enhances efficiency while envisioning a future-forward construction that can enable full reuse, avoiding landfill waste. Modules can be easily dismantled and reassembled in different configurations in case of future renovations or remodeling. At the ‘end of life’, modules that meet reuse standards can be refurbished and used again, hence reducing waste.  

The store also provides a more convenient environment for Starbucks partners (employees), featuring a back-of-house wall system that connects the bar and storage space. It facilitates front-flow of materials such as ice and cups and the back-flow of waste. This reduces the number of trips partners have to make between the bar and storage area, improving operational efficiency and enabling partners to focus on connections with customers.

In addition, the store utilizes Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technologies. Air conditioners can be switched on and off automatically according to the store’s operating hours, and the lighting can be automatically adjusted to different preset modes for different times of the day. Through these technologies, the store is expected to reduce carbon emissions by around 15 percent, compared to a regular Starbucks store of the same size (2019 baseline scenario).

The art installations in the store are inspired by Hacienda Alsacia, Starbucks coffee farm in Costa Rica. Referencing the region’s topographic map as the outline, the designer used colors from the ‘bean cards’ of coffees from Starbucks top 10 coffee producing regions. The colors bring a lighter touch to the rugged mountains and terrain contours, while also highlighting Starbucks appreciation for nature. Artworks are displayed in different areas of the store and are grouped according to the three largest coffee producing regions – Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Daily Operations – Promoting responsible living through a cup of coffee

Advanced plastic-to-textile technologies are used to transform Starbucks PET cups into the iconic Starbucks green apron donned by store partners. The cups undergo deep cleaning and processing to become recycled PET fragments, which are then made into polyester chips, yarns, and fabrics, before becoming a Starbucks apron.

This recycling initiative not only helps to minimize white pollution caused by PET beverage bottles, but also reduces energy and resource consumption compared to the traditional textile industry. Each apron achieves approximately one kilogram of carbon reduction in its lifecycle.

The store will be introducing “Sustainable Coffee Classrooms” hosted by coffee masters selected from across the market. In addition to coffee knowledge and culture, customers can learn about different sustainability practices adopted by Starbucks throughout the entire coffee supply chain.

The store not only showcases the “bean to cup” journey, but also inspires people to rethink the endless possibilities of the coffee lifecycle. The store is the first in the market to recycle its coffee grounds for use as fertilizer. After composting, they can be used in suburban farms and shopping mall gardens. Customers can also take coffee grounds back home for free.

Customer Experience – Making sustainability part of everyday lifestyles

The Shanghai Greener Store is the first Starbucks store globally to host sustainability-themed exhibitions, where artists will be invited to give coffee grounds and other materials a new lease of life. Called the “Circular Lifestyle Lab,” the exhibition features sustainability-themed art installations made from recycled materials.

Kicking off the initiative is a collaboration with Tongji University’s College of Design and Innovation on an exhibition titled, “Organic Prosperity,” featuring art installations created through the imaginative use of coffee grounds and other retail waste materials. Customers can also sign up for related talks and workshops.

Customers are encouraged to bring their own tumblers and cutlery to the store. Those without their own cups or tumblers can still do their part to reduce single-use cups by purchasing a Grande-sized reusable cup for just 15 RMB when ordering beverages for on-the-go consumption. Consistent with other stores in the market, the store will provide coffee grounds straws and cutlery made of biodegradable materials, while encouraging customers to bring their own reusable cup or tumblers for 4 RMB discount.

Customers may also enjoy a scrumptious variety of plant-based food and beverage offerings. Over half of the store menu will be plant-based, including the debut of 15 new food items and two new limited-time offer beverages, while oatmilk will be used as the default option for most beverages. A range of plant-based bakery, wraps, sandwiches, salads, cakes and pastries will be available to satisfy customers’ craving at any time of the day.

From design and construction, to daily store operations and customer experience, the Shanghai Greener Store not only serves as a re-imagined third place, but also demonstrate Starbucks partners’ commitment to a sustainable future. Let us work together towards our shared aspiration.

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