New round of investments, part of collective private and public sector collaboration, is a major step to scale innovative solutions to advance water access and reduce waste sent to landfill
Ahead of its 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Starbucks announced over $50 million in planned investments to advance its ambitious target to cut its water and waste footprints in half by 2030.
“At Starbucks, it’s our role and responsibility to protect our planet and give back more than we take. These investments will help us make significant strides toward our sustainability commitments while building a business that scales for good and is driven by innovation,” said Starbucks executive vice president of global coffee, social impact and sustainability, Michelle Burns.
Driven by the passion of its partners, Starbucks is committed to building a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future for communities and the planet. This latest round of investments showcases the power of collective impact across sectors and Starbucks role as an industry-wide model for how thoughtful partnerships can drive environmental stewardship and long-term business goals.
Mexico: Subsidized water delivery allows Gloria and her husband to have regular access to affordable water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, and growing fresh food in their garden. (Photo credit: Water.org)
Building a Water Positive Future
At present, two billion people around the world are living in water-stressed areas. Investing in water and climate projects can be a solution for advancing equity and human rights, alleviating the impacts of climate change and securing resilient supply chains.
In support of our expanded water commitment of 50% of water withdrawal conserved or replenished across our direct operations, stores, packaging and agricultural supply chain by 2030, Starbucks has committed to prioritize action in high-risk basins through collective action and support watershed health, ecosystem resilience and water equity.
To achieve this target, Starbucks is leveraging its global reach and partnering with other leading companies who are members of the United Nations Water Resilience Coalition and the public sector to unlock critical capital for making progress against UN SDG 6. Starbucks announced an initial anchor investment of up to $25 million into WaterEquity’s Global Access Fund IV in partnership with other corporate peers and the United States International Development Finance Corporation. Through such an investment, Starbucks is helping lead the way in an innovative approach to water stewardship with the hope of catalyzing additional companies to invest in water action. Starbucks is exploring additional investments that would bring our total investment intended to advance water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to $50 million.
Starbucks recent investment with WaterEquity will support improvements in water access and quality for low-income populations in countries across South and Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America through microfinance loans for the purchase of WASH products and services such as household toilets, water filters and tap connections. Innovative investments like this build on The Starbucks Foundation’s long history of investments in WASH around the world and help meet the company’s new commitment to enhance WASH for 5 million people. The company is complementing its investments with ongoing programmatic work in high-risk basins with leading NGO partners including WWF, TNC, Water.org and WaterAid.
Brazil: Since getting access to safe water at home, Cirliane can spend her time baking cakes to sell rather than walk to collect water. (Photo credit: Water.org)
Investing in a Circular Economy
In another key step to reduce its environmental impact and bolster a more robust recycling industry, Starbucks announced a $10 million investment in Circular Services to reduce landfill waste and drive innovative efforts to shift towards a circular economy in the United States.
Circular Services is the largest privately held recycling company in the United States, and Starbucks investment will support their work helping U.S. municipalities and businesses reduce the amount of valuable recyclable material sent to landfill. Circular Services uses advanced technology to improve sortation, processing and reuse of valuable commodities, including consumer packaging, organics, textiles, electronics and more, for continual reuse in domestic supply chains.
This investment will not only bring recycling access to Starbucks stores, but also creates a partnership with leading waste industry stakeholders to collaborate on recycling solutions for packaging types with limited access to recycling programs such as Starbucks hot cup.
Sims Municipal Recycling (SMR), a Closed Loop Partners investment, produces hundreds of thousands of tons of recycled metals, plastics, paper and glass for sale to mills, smelters, refiners, re-claimers and secondary material processors. (Photo credit: Michael Anton | Sims Municipal Recycling)
“Now is the time for bold action to transform the recycling infrastructure in the U.S. Starbucks is excited to join with Microsoft, Nestle, PepsiCo, SK Group, Unilever, Brookfield and the Partnership Fund for New York City to help generate nearly a billion-dollar investment in Circular Services. This builds upon our long-standing work with Closed Loop Partners, whose NextGen Consortium has made significant strides in advancing sustainable packaging, including bringing hot cup recycling to more communities,” said Starbucks chief sustainability officer, Michael Kobori.
Starbucks investment is part of a collaborative collective including Microsoft, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SK Group, Unilever and Brookfield Renewable, all working to scale circular economy infrastructure with a goal of catalyzing further corporate capital and accelerating growth of innovative partners that will champion the circular economy of the future.
As we look to the future, we are challenging ourselves to think bigger and do much more in partnership with others to take care of the planet we share. With the help of our partners, customers, industry experts and advocates, we are innovating – testing, learning and scaling – new ways to help protect our planet.
Supporting Water Projects Worldwide
Starbucks is also investing RMB 3 million to initiate the Qiandao Lake water replenishment project, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, and with the support of the local government. Through this initiative, the company seeks to develop water replenishment into a viable and effective nature-based solution that complements existing water conservation efforts, with potential for adaptation to other critical water basins across China.
The project features two scientifically proven strategies for improving water quality, tailored to the unique characteristics of the local natural ecosystem including the promotion of sustainable agriculture to reduce soil erosion and surface runoff and wetlands restoration that naturally filters off pollutants while enhancing local biodiversity. Qiandao Lake supplies drinking water to approximately 10 million people across Zhejiang Province.
Alsea Foundation, The Starbucks Foundation and World Vision announced a partnership with Planet Water Foundation to guarantee access to clean water for vulnerable communities with plans to install 25 water towers over the next five years. The initiative will guarantee access to clean and safe water for 45,000 people in various communities across Mexico and in markets where Alsea operates Starbucks stores.
“We believe that access to clean and safe water is a basic human right, which is why we have collaborated with Planet Water Foundation for more than 10 years, starting in Indonesia and recently expanding to Latin America,” said Alicia Vermaele, director of The Starbucks Foundation. “We are proud that this new initiative will accelerate access for communities in Mexico, Colombia and other places where there is insufficient access to clean water, with the help of our local Starbucks partners as volunteers, who know their communities best.”