Starbucks recently announced that it is aiming for every customer to use their own personal cup or cup or borrow a reusable cup from their local Starbucks – by 2025.
The company is testing a variety of programs to determine which will most effectively reduce waste while keeping customers happy. This change will directly contribute to the coffee chain’s 2030 sustainability goals to save 50% water and achieve carbon-neutral green coffee.
Waste is a huge problem in the restaurant industry, and Starbucks itself distributes more than six billion single-use cups each year, most of which cannot be recycled and end up directly in landfills or in the environment. Meanwhile, the entire restaurant industry is struggling immensely with single-use plastic waste.
According to the EPA, food and packaging/containers make up nearly 45% of materials in landfills in the United States. This number has only increased in recent years as the pandemic has caused restaurants to implement multiple delivery options and provide more single-use, non-recyclable utensils, bags and containers. .
When people search for sustainability in the restaurant industry, they typically look for restaurants that provide sustainably sourced food and/or offer reusable eco-friendly cups, utensils, and packaging.
My vision as a climate advocate and inventor turned entrepreneur is to create innovations that reduce environmental impact. Too often we let outdated thinking get in the way of rapid progress: we assume that if something is better or more sustainable, it must cost more and take longer to gain traction.
With smart engineering and persistence, we can overcome the challenges of implementing more sustainable technologies. We can reduce environmental impact while delivering economic returns and compelling value propositions.
When people search for sustainability in the restaurant industry, they typically look for restaurants that provide sustainably sourced food and/or offer reusable eco-friendly cups, utensils, and packaging. But what happens behind the scenes, including water use, HVAC, and commercial building systems, is just as important as a restaurant’s consumer-facing practices.
Water used in hotels and restaurants accounts for nearly 15% of total water use in commercial and institutional facilities in the United States. And the majority of that figure — 52%, to be exact — takes place in restaurant kitchens, largely for dishwashing. So, as businesses switch to reusable packaging, silverware, and dishes, as Starbucks is trying to do, hot water usage will only increase because those businesses need to wash more dishes.
This is why holistic and sustainable innovation is so important.
One of the best and most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions is to use less energy. Implementing water-efficient practices in commercial facilities can reduce energy consumption by 10%, operating costs by up to 11% and water consumption by 15%.
But what happens behind the scenes, including water use, HVAC, and commercial building systems, is just as important as a restaurant’s consumer-facing practices.
Saving money and being sustainable are not mutually exclusive, and restaurants can realize the universal benefits of shifting to more sustainable practices and a holistic approach to using less energy.
Switching to more sustainable practices is not easy, and the perceived increase in prices is often what discourages many businesses. But switching to sustainable practices is not as costly as we are led to believe.
With sustainability becoming a primary focus around the world over the past 10 years, sustainable innovation has become embedded in virtually every industry. And the more holistic and sustainable innovations progress, the less costly it will be for companies to switch to sustainable practices. That’s why innovators can’t help but try to find solutions to the ever-growing problems that negatively impact our environment.
Holistic sustainability must be the main driver of innovation. Not only do innovators have a responsibility to the planet and society to create environmentally friendly products and systems, but new innovations that do not align with sustainability goals will soon be impractical and of no use to businesses and the society.
So, industry innovators, I challenge you to focus on delivering more holistic solutions that improve performance, reduce costs, and reduce environmental impact. Starbucks is showing the restaurant industry that bold choices can be made to improve an organization’s sustainability while delivering value and reducing costs. We should all strive to follow his example.