Starbucks packaging

Your coffee to go may be a bigger problem than you realize. Starbucks alone sells over 4 billion hot cups and 3.5 billion straws and plastic cups per year. That’s hard to imagine. The dirty little secret is that those “paper” cups that coffee shops use aren’t recyclable because of the coatings they use to keep the cups from getting soggy. There are ways to manage the cups, composting them, for example, but it would take a different supply chain to manage them. They worked with other coffee vendors and MIT back in 2010 to try to find solutions.

The truth is that most of the cups end up in our waste stream, instead of successfully recycling or composting. Today, I signed a Greenpeace petition that asked Starbucks to pursue some very sensible objectives:

  • Serve 25% of your hot and cold beverages in reusable cups.
  • Change paper cups’ 100% polyethylene plastic lining to one that is 100% recyclable.
  • Recycle cups and food packaging in all your stores.
  • Incorporate into company’s annual corporate sustainability reports and shareholder reports the type, volume, and cost of all plastics used in packaging.
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