Reaffirming Starbucks commitment to a resource-positive future

An open letter from Starbucks Chief Sustainability Officer, Michael Kobori, shared with Starbucks partners in support of Climate Week.

Dear All,

We have felt the immediate impact of climate change across the world this year – from the west coast of the U.S. engulfed by fires and an apocalyptic orange sky, to the floods in Asia, and a record-breaking Atlantic storm season. Not even the northern-most point of our planet was spared, with 100-degree temperatures recorded in the Arctic. At this point, the climate crisis is not something that will happen in the future; it is upon us today.

At Starbucks, we also realize the climate crisis is inextricably intertwined with the other historic crises we are grappling with, among them: the global pandemic, a recession, and systemic racism.

At the beginning of 2020, Starbucks announced a bold aspiration to become resource-positive, storing more carbon than we emit, providing more clean freshwater than we use, and eliminating waste. And we set targets to cut our carbon, water, and waste footprints in half by 2030.

Nine months on, sobered by what we have experienced this year, we realize we need to deepen that commitment and recognize how it is interlinked with our people-focused mission---to inspire and nurture the human spirit. We have taken the following actions:

  • Net Zero Carbon Economy: In July, we joined Microsoft and seven other leading companies as founding members of the Transform to Net Zero Coalition, which will help accelerate achievement of a net zero carbon economy by 2050. 
  • Partner Engagement: Our company’s passion for sustainability is reflected by our Starbucks partners (employees), the majority of whom are Millennials and Gen Z. In Earth Month this year, we surpassed over 25,000 partners enrolled in our Greener Apron sustainability training program. This summer, over 400 partners enrolled in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Training program.
  • Customer Options: We are growing our plant-based menu, offering customers around the world the opportunity to make more climate-wise choices. This summer, we expanded availability of new non-dairy options including oatmilk regionally, and the Impossible™ Breakfast Sandwich nationwide.
  • Sustainable Coffee:Through our Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, we have more than halved what our coffee’s carbon footprint would have been otherwise. As we look to ensure a sustainable future of coffee for all, we continue to develop strategies focused on further reducing our carbon footprint in coffee, while also introducing farm-level water-saving projects and advancing farmer livelihoods.
  • Renewable Investments: We purchase enough renewable energy to power 100% of our company-operated stores in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Worldwide, 72% of Starbucks operations are powered by renewables. Looking ahead, we are developing climate justice criteria to apply to new investments beyond our existing portfolio of $275 million in renewable energy.
  • Climate Justice: Recognizing the inequitable vulnerabilities of climate change within our communities, we are engaging in conversations with cross-sectoral leaders about how to build a post-COVID-19 economy that is more socially and environmentally sustainable. This includes collaborating with others to rethink our strategies and update our businesses plans to ensure resilience in an increasingly uncertain world. I am pleased to begin this work at Climate Week, by joining discussions with:
    • NationSwell, on developing a climate justice lens for our work in renewable energy and green infrastructure. 
    • Team Rubicon, on linking social justice and sustainability and the impact of ESG values on business model resiliency.
    • ENGIE, on influencing leadership for change.

These actions are a step in the right direction. But we all know that we need to do more and do it faster if we are to create a more sustainable, just, and prosperous world that is people and planet positive.

I look forward to your engagement and support as we address this challenge and opportunity of our lifetime.

With gratitude,

Michael