Starbucks’ Throwaway Cups — there is no “away”


Coffee giant Starbucks uses between 8 and 10 million single-use throwaway cups every day.

But there is no “away” — there’s only landfill, litter, incineration, ocean trash — or recycling. Ten years ago, Starbucks promised that by 2015, 100% of its cups would be reusable or recyclable, 25% of beverages would be served in reusable containers, and they’d have recycling capability in every store. It’s 2018 and the company’s nowhere close.

 So this year shareholders spoke up, using a shareholder resolution to demand that Starbucks accelerate and live up to its recycling goals. Nearly 30% of Starbucks shares — worth $54 billion — voted in favor. At the same time, grassroots activists presented the CEO with a petition from nearly 1 million citizens asking the company to act.

The combined power of shareholder pressure and grassroots activism led the company to announce a $10 million effort to design a recyclable and compostable cup — a good start. 

This powerful vote result means Starbucks knows it can’t rest on its mediocre performance. Because there is no “away,” and the ocean can’t wait.