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5 Easy Resolutions to Tackle in 2012

We do it every year. We come up with a lengthy list of New Years resolutions that will transform our lives! We swear to finally use that gym membership, lose 10 pounds, pay off our credit cards and bulk up our savings account, all while keeping the house spotless and learning to speak Chinese. Sound familiar?

In the middle of all that, it can be easy to miss those smaller goals that, easy as they are to carry out, come with exponential benefits. This year, feel free to take it easy and still make a difference. Here are five ways:

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Cup Summit 3

Starbucks 3rd Cup Summit

Starbucks held its third Cup Summit in Boston last week, gathering over 100 packaging industry leaders to discuss solutions for the recyclability of cups and other packaging. In addition to the meeting itself, there was a great 2011 Cup Summit webcast with expert representatives from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tim Horton’s, Georgia-Pacific and Action Carting Environmental Services.

The Summit was a great success, with everyone feeling like we made a lot of progress solving this difficult issue. We met in the incredible MIT Media Lab, hosted by Peter Senge, senior lecturer at MIT and founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning. Peter and his team helped the group focus on system solutions that consider the entire life of cups and packaging: sourcing of raw materials, use by our customers and final disposal.

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Live from the 2011 Cup Summit

I’m in Boston for Starbucks third Cup Summit, an effort that began in 2009 and has brought together 100 leaders throughout the paper and plastic cup value chain for a common purpose – to find a way to make food packaging and serveware recyclable. We are working with more representatives from suppliers, cup manufacturers, retail and beverage businesses, recyclers, NGOs, and academic experts– even competitors. We know that together we can find innovative solutions for our cups and packaging and make a meaningful impact.

On Friday, Sept. 9, I’ll be hosting a panel discussion at the Cup Summit with experts from MIT, Tim Horton’s, Georgia-Pacific and New York waste management company Action Carting Environmental Services. We’ll talk about the common challenges we face, the progress we have made, and ideas for the future.

I hope you’ll join the conversation at our live webcast on Friday, Sept. 9 at 12 p.m. Eastern/9 a.m. Pacific at or on Starbucks Facebook page. Submit your questions and ideas on Twitter by using the hashtag #cupsummit or Facebook.

Jim Hanna is director of environmental impact for Starbucks.

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Our New Brewery Blocks Store

The first time I ever visited Portland, Ore., was on a rainy Saturday afternoon in January about eight years ago. My stay was brief, permeated with chill and twilight, and I ended the trip with feelings of ambivalence.

However, over my subsequent years in the Pacific Northwest I’ve returned there several times, and

I’ve discovered a delightful fact: Portland is insidious. Like a casual acquaintance who slowly grows into a cherished friend, the city reveals more of its great qualities every time I visit and leaves me looking forward to my next visit.

I had the privilege of one such return last week when I traveled with our Store Concepts team to attend the opening of a very special new Starbucks Store location: the Brewery Blocks store at NW 11th Avenue and Couch Street.

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Vancouver B.C. Opens its First LEED® Registered Store

On March 10, 2011, we opened Vancouver’s first LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) registered store. Located at the corner of West Hastings and Howe streets, this beautiful store exemplifies our approach to store design and commitment for all new stores globally to be LEED® certified.

Our Canadian store development and design teams have been busy renovating stores to link them more closely to the communities they serve. As stores are built and renovated, the teams look to source materials and employ craftspeople on a local basis, incorporating reused and recycled elements where possible.

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Recycling Bins in British Columbia

Starbucks recycling bins in British Columbia

If you’ve visited one of our company-owned stores in British Columbia lately, hopefully you’ve seen our new front of store recycling containers!

We were able to place containers in almost all stores, although unfortunately there were a few in towns that still don’t have recycling service for businesses. Also, some of our landlords do not provide recycling service to their buildings, so stores in those locations can’t recycle. Starbucks is the first restaurant to accept disposable coffee cups for recycling in B.C., and it’s a big step towards meeting our goal to have recycling bins in all our stores by 2015.

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Used Paper Cups Become New Again

I want to let you know about an important milestone in our recycling journey. Earlier this month, we completed a six-week pilot project that – for the first time – proved our used paper cups can be recycled into new paper cups.

To make this happen, we collaborated with International Paper, our largest cup supplier, and Mississippi River Pulp LLC, the company that produces post-consumer recycled fiber (PCF) for our paper cups. While the PCF for our current paper cups is made from office paper, the PCF used for the pilot project contains used cup material.

This advancement brings us one step closer to our goal of ensuring that 100% of our cups are reusable or recyclable by 2015. By “recyclable,” we’re not just talking about the cup design, but the ability for local communities to collect, haul and process our cups for recycling. We want customers to be able to recycle single-use cups in our stores, in their homes and workplaces, and in public spaces. While some communities already recycle our cups, most don’t have the right infrastructure in place – and that’s what we’re aiming to influence.

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Let's Talk About Cups

Many of you have told us that you are concerned about the environment. We are too! Minimizing the impact on the environment from our packaging is a very important quest for us.

You may know that the hot beverage cups in our stores are made with 10% post consumer recycled material – the first such cups in the industry.

We’ve also made improvements to reduce the environmental impact of our plastic cold beverage cups. In 2008, we switched from PET plastic to polypropylene. Sound a little geeky? I’ll agree, but this move reduced the carbon footprint of our cold cups by 45%!

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