Sustainability Environment

Starbucks promises to become ‘resource positive’ by 2030

starbucks environment sustainable 2030 no waste waste negative carbon water net producer plan kevin johnson
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Story at a glance

  • Starbucks President Kevin Johnson released a plan to become a sustainable, resource-positive company by 2030.
  • The plan outlined five pillars it will follow, including sustainable farming practices and reusable packaging, to reduce the company’s overall environmental footprint.
  • This plan comes as many companies begin to announce ambitious sustainability efforts.

Following other companies like Microsoft and Coca-Cola’s recent announcements on their plans for corporate sustainability, Seattle-based coffee titan Starbucks is once again leading the pack with the rollout of another ambitious set of sustainability goals.

Starbucks CEO and President Kevin Johnson intends to lead the company to cut its product waste, water usage, and carbon emissions in half by 2030. Similar to how some companies aim to become carbon negative — that is, to decarbonize the atmosphere while no longer emitting any more fossil fuels — Starbucks’s new goal is to become both carbon negative and water positive. 

The company would then become “resource positive.” 

In a press release, Johnson explained that, “as we approach the 50th anniversary of Starbucks in 2021, we are looking ahead with a heightened sense of urgency and conviction that we must challenge ourselves, think bigger and do much more in partnership with others to take care of the planet we share.”

The latest initiative has five main goals: adding plant-based menu items, moving to reusable packaging, investing in sustainable farming and forestry practices, reducing food waste through recycling and developing “eco-friendly stores, operations, manufacturing and delivery.”

In an effort to better measure the company’s environmental impact, Starbucks released its new Environmental Baseline Report, which measures its water, waste and carbon footprint so as to act as a guide for how to improve future performance. The report will be annual and was created in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Quantis.

The company has long been ethically sourcing ingredients and materials for its store locations, which is part of the company’s Coffee and Farmer Equity (CARE) program. Today, they boast 99 percent ethical sourcing statistics, but it took the coffee conglomerate two decades to arrive there.

Starbucks now aims to make similarly large structural overhauls within their company to become resource positive, and thereby waste free, in just 10 years. 

Johnson acknowledges future hurdles, saying, “While we’re confident these strategies are directionally right, our eyes are wide open knowing that we do not have all the answers or fully understand all the complexities and potential consequences. We do know that this journey will require new innovations and creative ideas from entrepreneurs, non-profits, our suppliers, our licensees, our partners and our customers.”

Johnson’s open letter and Starbuck’s plan come as the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos continues, with a heavy emphasis on climate change and sustainability.