In 2008 Starbucks announced a set of aggressive goals to advance its Global Responsibility initiatives. These goals were developed based on areas where the company believes it can have the greatest impact. Starbucks 2009 report measures recent progress, highlighting significant milestones as well as challenges.
“While we were faced with difficult global economic conditions last year we remained steadfastly committed to the responsible practices that have defined our company since its founding,” said Ben Packard, Starbucks vice president of Global Responsibility. “Collaboration has been a key component of our strategy. By engaging external experts, business partners, and other organizations in 2009, we gained valuable insights that will help shape our path forward.”
Last year Starbucks achieved both of its short-term coffee purchasing goals: to increase annual purchases of coffee verified through Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, and to double purchases of Fairtrade certified coffee. These accomplishments bring the company closer to achieving its long-term goal of purchasing 100 percent responsibly grown and ethically traded coffee by 2015. Starbucks defines “responsibly grown and ethically traded coffee” as that which has been third-party verified or certified, either through C.A.F.E. Practices, Fairtrade, or another externally audited system.
In 2009 Starbucks also made meaningful progress toward goals related to farmer loans and incentives, youth engagement, energy and water conservation, and green building. The company reported “on track” status in these areas, and is focused on maintaining momentum. By the end of 2010 Starbucks aims to reduce energy consumption by 25 percent, and to purchase renewable energy equivalent to 50 percent of the electricity used in company-owned stores. Additionally, Starbucks strives to achieve LEED(R) certification for all of its new, company-owned stores around the world beginning later this year.
Areas cited for improvement as a result of 2009 performance include mobilizing partners (employees) and customers to contribute community service hours, and reducing waste from single-use cups and other packaging. Last year Starbucks community service hours saw a year-over-year decrease, which the company attributes largely to global economic conditions that required a realignment of the business and, consequently, limited partners’ capacity to coordinate service activities. In 2010 Starbucks will sharpen its focus on community involvement and develop tools to assist local markets with their endeavors.
The company aims to ensure 100 percent of its cups are reusable or recyclable by 2015; however it encountered several barriers in this area in 2009. One of the most significant challenges Starbucks faces is a variance in local recycling capabilities. In order to develop solutions that will make its single-use cups more broadly recyclable, Starbucks is collaborating with municipalities, raw material suppliers, cup manufacturers, retail and beverage businesses, recyclers, NGOs, and academic experts. On April 22-23 the company will convene these stakeholders in Boston at its second cup summit. Participants will discuss advances since the 2009 summit and identify strategies for the future.
Starbucks also encourages its customers to help reduce cup waste. Last week the company launched a global marketing campaign to increase tumbler use, driving customers to starbucks.com/thebigpicture to make the tumbler pledge. In 2009 Starbucks served more than 26 million beverages in reusable cups in its company-owned stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This simple shift in behavior kept nearly 1.2 million pounds of paper from ending up in landfills.
“As proud as we are of our accomplishments in 2009, we recognize we have a long way to go,” said Packard. “We urge our global partners, customers and other stakeholders to join forces with us as we enter the next phase of this journey.”