Starbucks, a supposedly environmentally friendly company, is under fire from a dozen environmental organizations because of its widespread use of plastic, which is contributing to a global environmental crisis and polluting oceans around the world.
In 2008, Starbucks pledged to make a 100 percent recyclable paper cup and sell 25 percent of drinks in reusable cups by 2015, according to the organizations.
Groups Make Starbucks Demands The campaign is calling on Starbucks to address its plastic pollution in 5 specific ways:
- Create a 100% recyclable paper cup without a plastic lining.
- Reduce plastic pollution by eliminating single-use plastics like straws.
- Promote reusable cups and encourage customers to change their habits.
- Recycle cups and food packaging in all stores worldwide.
- Report publicly on the type and amount of plastics used in packaging.
To date, however, Starbucks has failed to produce a 100 percent recyclable paper cup, and currently serves only 1.4 percent of its drinks in reusable cups.
“Starbucks serves an astounding 4-plus billion paper cups each year, most of which end up in the trash because their plastic lining makes them unrecyclable in most places,” said Ross Hammond from the environmental group, Stand.earth.
“That’s a disgraceful amount of plastic pollution ending up in our local landfills. It’s time for Starbucks to start living up to its promises.” Hammond added in a statement.
A petition is being circulated at: mobilize4change.org.
The groups publicized their campaign ahead of Starbucks’ 2018 annual shareholder meeting. A sustainability proposal is on the table, but the company is urging a “no” vote on the measure.
The proposal asks Starbucks to address its plastic pollution problem with stronger efforts to use sustainable packaging.
Starbucks is one of a number of companies, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, that pledged to curb its use of plastic.
Some nations are taking steps to fight the problem. A parliamentary committee in Great Britain recently proposed a “latte levy” on single-use cups to help address the pollution problem. The City of Vancouver, BC, is also considering imposing a fee on unrecyclable, plastic-lined cups.
Starbucks is already the third-largest fast=food restaurant chain in the world by number of locations, according to the company. It has 25,085 outlets worldwide and is proposing an aggressive expansion campaign in China and other Asian countries.
Environmentalist say Starbucks cups, lids and green straws have been found in oceans and are part of a “catastrophic” plastic pollution problem. The plastic breaks down to small bits that are eaten by birds and marine animals. Many die from the consumption.
“Americans use half a billion plastic straws every day. That’s an unfathomable amount. These plastic straws are consistently among the top items collected during beach cleanups,” said Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, of the 5 Gyres Institute.
“Starbucks’ green straws may be iconic, but this staggering amount of plastic pollution is simply unacceptable,” she added.
“Each minute, the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic ends up in the ocean, and by 2050, there is projected to be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight,” said Von Hernandez of Break Free From Plastic.
The campaign includes 5 Gyres, Care2, Clean Water Action, CREDO, Greenpeace USA, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Stand.earth, The Story of Stuff Project, SumOfUs, Texas Campaign for the Environment, UPSTREAM, Hannah4Change, Captain Planet Foundation, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation, Plastik Diet Kantong, Heirs to Our Oceans, Wild at Heart Taiwan, and a variety of organizations participating under the Break Free From Plastic global movement.