In this day and age of corporate social responsibility and accountability, most companies are making CSR efforts to appear more green and caring towards the world they operate in. One of the companies to jump onto that bandwagon is Starbucks. In April, Starbucks partly sponsored the Betacup Challenge, a contest that aims to solve its disposable cup problem (but still seems to be declining our option to license our travel cup holder). Months down the line, and in hindsight, it all seems to have been a huge PR exercise. Look at the evidence.
Karma Cup, the winner of the Betacup Challenge, is an idea about putting up a chalkboard in coffee shops that notes every person walking in with a reusable mug. The 10th person to use a reusable cup gets his or her drink free. The idea gets everyone involved in thinking green and has them excited at the prospect of getting rewarded for it. The purpose is to get people to switch to reusable mugs. It’s a good idea that has not been adopted by Starbucks. Not yet, at least. Starbucks director for environmental impact, Jim Hanna, is said to have called the contest a “huge opportunity” for “product development and market research.” He added that Starbucks will look over all the ideas submitted and take them into consideration. That is not showing a firm resolve to adopt a good practice.
If Starbucks really does want to go green and stop 2.7 billion of its cups from finding their way to landfills, it will have to start taking some serious steps to look credible and believable. Acting upon the winning idea of a contest it co-sponsored could be a good start.
Starbucks endeavors to make all its cups “recyclable or reusable” by 2015. It’s a noble intention, but not one that the company seems to be acting upon. Currently, only 1.5% of all Starbucks drinks in U.S., Canada, and United Kingdom are sold in reusable cups. The company does, however, have five years to turn those dismal figures around.
Making coffee cups recyclable is no mean feat, especially in the face of limited local recycling systems. But instead of waiting for the bigger hurdles to clear up, companies can take small measures that lend credibility to their words, which is why we’re exploring the use of regrind (reccycled plastic) in production of our cup holders.