Starbucks Convenes Global Leaders To Advance Recycling Initiatives

As part of Starbucks Coffee Co.'s goal to ensure 100 percent of its cups are reusable or recyclable by 2015, it will host its third cup summit today at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In addition to convening more than 100 industry leaders –  including competitors – to discuss cross-industry standards and solutions for the recyclability of food packaging and serveware in the U.S. and Canada, Starbucks will host a public webinar at 12:00 p.m. ET (live) with expert representatives from MIT, Tim Horton's, Georgia-Pacific and Action Carting Environmental Services.

"Over the past three years, we've learned that success has been a combination of forward-thinking partnerships along with innovative approaches to widespread challenges," said Jim Hanna, Starbucks director of environmental impact in a prepared statement. "By collaborating with key industry leaders – even competitors – we are better able to reduce the global impact of packaging throughout the industry."

Starbucks convened the first groundbreaking Cup Summit in Seattle in 2009 and the second in Boston in 2010 to find solutions to make its cups more broadly recyclable. This year's symposium again convened representatives from all facets of the paper and plastic cup value chain, including municipalities, raw material suppliers, cup manufacturers, retail and beverage businesses, recyclers, NGOs, and academic experts, to announce participants' progress on action plans from the previous Cup Summits and formulate strategic actions for the upcoming year.

"Recycling is a complex problem that will not be solved overnight; however, initiatives like Starbucks Cup Summit are moving the dialogue in the right direction," said Peter Senge, senior lecturer at MIT and founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL). "The company's holistic approach has the potential to make a significant impact on the entire foodservice industry."

Since the first Summit, Starbucks has implemented recycling in 18 markets, established relationships with several municipalities and initiated three recycling pilots across the country. Working directly with paper mills around the U.S. and Canada, in the past year alone, Starbucks has tested the compatibility of post-consumer cups in their paper recycling operations to create a demand for their cups from the paper and plastics industries. Building off an idea conceived at the second Cup Summit, Starbucks and International Paper, with Mississippi River Pulp, LLC., completed a six-week pilot project that – for the first time – demonstrated that Starbucks used paper cups can be recycled into new paper cups.

As a result of the Summits hosted by Starbucks, the Foodservice Packaging Institute also announced today the formation of a coalition of restaurant and food packaging industry leaders. Over the next year, they plan to take a systemic look at how single-use cups and food packaging could be more recyclable across the retail sector.

Starbucks(R) beverages account for approximately four billion cups globally per year, and the single-use cup industry generates more than 500 billion cups worldwide annually. As one of many businesses operating in the industry, Starbucks is working to lead the way in communities to move the entire field towards cup recycling.