For the third time in a decade, Starbucks on Tuesday made a major commitment to rebuilding paper coffee cups for recycling and composting, while emphasizing that the problem is bigger than any one company.
As environmental groups prepared to deliver petitions signed by hundreds of thousands of people pressuring the Seattle-based coffee giant on the issue, it announced a series of internal and external steps including $10 million for a three-year program to back entrepreneurs working on the problem.
Starbucks is also facing calls to reduce or eliminate plastic, which it and other food-service businesses operating in Seattle will have to do under a city law that takes effect July 1.
In its 2016 social-impact report, the company revamped its goals, aiming to double the amount of recycled material in its hot cup — currently 10 percent, the same level it’s been since Starbucks gained regulatory approval for it in 2006 — and to double the number of stores and communities where cups could be recycled by 2022.
Starbucks is joining with Closed Loop Partners, a fund backed by many large consumer-goods companies, to begin the NextGen Cup Challenge, aiming “to bring a fully recyclable and compostable cup to the market, with a three-year ambition,” Chapman said. The company pledged to share solutions and hopes to attract participation from entrepreneurs and other players in the paper-cup industry to the effort.
Starbucks’ past emphasis on the broader recycling system underscores the challenge it and other coffee purveyors and food-service companies face in handling billions of paper cups each year. Recycling laws and infrastructure vary considerably from market to market, if they exist at all, complicating any effort to make a single cup that can be recycled anywhere…