Starbucks Investors Bring Wave of Anti-Plastic Activism to Cups

(Bloomberg Law) -- Starbucks Corp.'s board is pushing back against a coffee-cup recycling proposal from shareholders worried about ocean pollution.

The group of investors, led by shareholder advocacy nonprofit As You Sow, has submitted a proposal for the coffee chain’s upcoming annual meeting asking its board to report on worldwide efforts to recycle its plastic and paper cups. The board told investors to vote against the proposal in a Jan. 25 proxy filing, citing Starbucks’ commitment to help develop a new kind of cup that can be recycled or composted as part of the NextGen Cup Challenge.

Starbucks has also been encouraging alternatives by providing a discount for customers who drink from reusable cups or tumblers, its board said. As You Sow’s shareholder proposal rides a wave of activism against single-use plastics. Starbucks is one of several companies that have pledged recently to phase out plastic straws amid pressure from environmentalists and concern from consumers. Straws and other plastic packaging contribute to ocean pollution and harm birds and sea life.