Recycling & Reducing Waste
We are committed to significantly reducing and diverting the waste our stores generate. Recycling is just one way we do this.
Recycling in Our Stores Goals and Progress
Goal: Implement front-of-store recycling in our company-owned stores by 2015.
Progress through 2012: In 2012, we increased the availability of front-of-store recycling by an additional 453 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
To learn more about our work in implementing front-of-store recycling read our Global Responsibility Goals & Progress Report.
Although most of our customers take their beverages to go, providing front-of-store recycling is an important part of our effort to develop comprehensive recycling solutions.
In 2008 we set a goal to implement front-of-store recycling in all company-owned locations by 2015. In 2012 24% of our company-owned stores in the United States and Canada offered front-of-store recycling. Of these locations, 94% were able to recycle or compost the hot cup. Although we still have work to do, we are pleased with our progress and will build on this momentum while expanding to international markets to reach our goal.
In 2012 we confirmed that markets such as Germany and the United Kingdom have effective recycling solutions in place, even if they do not include front-of-store recycling canisters. For example, in the United Kingdom store waste is separated into three streams in the back of our stores, and then separated later at the waste facility. Our UK stores are currently diverting approximately 50% of their waste from landfills with this method, and we are testing ways to increase this percentage. By leveraging the solutions from our different markets around the world, we can help build capabilities in markets newer to recycling.
Back-of-store recycling is also a priority, as most of our in-store waste is generated behind the counter. In 2012 78% of the 3,178 stores in the United States and Canada where Starbucks is responsible for providing waste removal services recycled cardboard boxes and other items. Among our remaining U.S. and Canada retail locations, the majority were limited by operational impasses, such as a lack of store space for recycling carts or the unavailability of commercial recycling services. We are working hard to resolve these barriers.
What We’re Doing Now
Recycling seems like a simple, straightforward initiative – but it’s actually quite challenging. Not only are there municipal barriers to successful recycling in many cities, but it takes significant changes in behavior to get it right.
A few non-recyclable items in a recycle bin can render the entire bag unrecyclable to the hauler. For recycling to be successful, local municipalities, landlords, customers, baristas, even adjacent businesses, all have to work together to keep recyclable materials out of the landfill, and non-recyclable materials out of recycling bins.
When looking at the waste generated at a Starbucks store – cardboard boxes, milk jugs, syrup bottles, aseptic cartons, and coffee grounds – most of it can be found behind the counter or in the backroom. That means, even though many of our stores recycle these items, our customers typically don’t see our recycling efforts in action.
While our efforts to recycle materials in the back of our stores and to bring front-of-store recycling to new markets have been effective in many areas, our success is continually dependent upon external circumstances, such as the comprehensiveness of commercial recycling services, aligning with recyclers and landlords, and finding adequate exterior space for containers. While our policy is that our stores will recycle where space and services are available, execution often presents challenges.
Most of our stores are located in shared spaces like malls, where it is often the landlord who controls waste collection and recycling, not Starbucks. In these cases we attempt to work with the landlord to find a solution that will enable recycling in our stores, and often that requires bringing recycling services to the entire shopping center which can certainly be challenging. Commercial recycling services are often less robust than residential recycling, and sometimes may not be available – that means the items our customers are used to recycling at home may not be accepted at businesses like ours because the recyclers won’t take them. And because different commercial recyclers accept different materials, we’re not able to provide a consistent program from store to store. In order to accommodate all of the different variations we encounter, we have created over 50 different versions of our recycling can lid to help customers determine what they can compost or recycle in each store.
In spite of these challenges, we are focused on working with others to make recycling easier for us and our customers.
What We’ll Do Next
In 2013 we are focusing on bringing customer recycling to stores in the New York Metro area and across all California. The preliminary work we’ve done there has shown that the barriers we’re used to seeing may be even more of an obstacle than usual. But this is not new territory for us and we will be working feverishly to overcome these barriers.
Along the way, we will continue to work with service providers, sorting facilities, mayors and other local authorities in major U.S. cities to help increase or improve commercial recycling opportunities. We’ll also help introduce or build recycling capabilities in other countries.
How You Can Help
Reduce Waste and Save Money. Save 10¢ and a paper cup each time you use a reusable tumbler! You can find them in our stores or online.
Use the Right Can Every Time
The recycling receptacles in our stores are all marked with lists and icons of the materials they’re intended for, like paper cups, plastic lids, food waste and more. Scan the tops of the cans before you toss to make sure you’re putting waste in the right place.