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Starbucks to Halve Carbon Emissions by 2030
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Starbucks to Halve Carbon Emissions by 2030

Starbucks plans to halve carbon emissions, water use and waste by 2030 as part of a long-term vision to become a "resource positive" company.   

CEO Kevin Johnson laid out the plan in a letter addressed to Starbucks employees, customers and other stakeholders. "Our aspiration is to become resource positive, storing more carbon than we emit, eliminating waste and providing more clean freshwater than we use," Johnson wrote. 

The coffee giant will conduct market research on factors related to its 2030 goals and formalize those targets in 2021, its 50th year in business based on lessons learned. "As we move forward, we will be transparent in reporting short- and long-term progress against our goals," Johnson promised stakeholders in his letter. 

Last year, Starbucks worked with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Quantis to assess the carbon emissions, water use, and waste associated with its operations and supply chain. This was the first time the company conducted a footprint assessment for all three of these areas globally and the findings informed both its 2030 goals and its long-term vision, according to Rebecca Zimmer, Starbucks' global director of environment.

"The findings from that audit drove us to where we had our biggest areas of opportunity, as well as the challenges we needed to solve for," Zimmer said. "It was also very informative in terms of what strategies could be deployed."

Using benchmarks from the analysis, Starbucks identified five long-term strategies that will underpin its resource positive vision. These tactics include expanding plant-based menu options, switching from disposable to reusable packaging, and investing in regenerative agriculture, forest conservation and water replenishment, Johnson detailed in his letter.

Environmental groups praised this long-term trajectory in testimonials gathered by Starbucks and distributed to reporters. “It is encouraging to see Starbucks embrace a data-driven and team-driven approach to creating a resource positive future," Mark Lee, executive director of the environmental consultancy SustainAbility, said in a statement. "Their most senior leadership was directly involved in the creation of this plan." 

"This is exactly the kind of leadership we need to see from businesses—an opportunity to invest in their own future while making their global customer base a partner in this sustainability journey," added Sheila Bonini, senior vice president of private-sector engagement for WWF. 

Starbucks' commitment to halve global carbon emissions by 2030 aligns with the Paris climate agreement, and the company will use Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) methodology to measure progress moving forward.

"We agree with the consensus of scientific experts who note that without drastic action from everyone—governments, companies and all of us as individuals—adapting to the impact of climate change in the future will be far more difficult and costly," Johnson wrote. 

The target builds on Starbucks' prior track record of setting forward-thinking goals and sticking with them, he asserted. For example, the company worked with Conservation International for nearly two decades to ethically source 99 percent of its coffee through C.A.F.E. (Coffee and Farmer Equity) practices. Reaching this milestone "more than halved what our coffee’s carbon footprint would have been otherwise," Johnson wrote. 

Under a 2018 commitment, Starbucks pledged to build 10,000 so-called "Greener Stores" by 2025. In this case, the company defines "greener" as a store that's powered by 100 percent renewable energy and uses 30 percent less water than its conventional counterparts, among other factors. 

A $1 billion green bond launched in May 2019 will fund further efforts toward the 2030 water goal, as well as other sustainability efforts at the company. 


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