Starbucks Takes Recycling to a Whole New Local Level

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When you oversee  more than 11,000 stores across the U.S., it’s easy to think of recycling on a national level. But for coffee retailer Starbucks the key lies in the availability of local recycling options.

Starbucks is currently working with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to determine what recycling barriers exist in each U.S. city and how to overcome them. Starbucks Director of Environmental Impact Jim Hanna even spoke at the annual U.S. Mayors Conference last week.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Starbucks is currently working with the U.S. Mayors to identify and overcome common recycling barriers in the U.S. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Addressing the situation from multiple angles, the coffee giant has already committed to developing a 100 percent recyclable cup by 2012, which will be recyclable with other paper.

But the company also wants to ensure that customers have access to recycling opportunities, such as in Seattle where the cups can be recycled in curbside programs. By working with U.S. mayors, Starbucks is hoping to reach its goal of recycling availability in 100 percent of its stores by 2015.

As part of this effort, Starbucks is currently keeping pace with community laws and programs for recycling. When San Francisco passed its mandatory composting ordinance last year, Starbucks added recycling and compost bins to the front of its San Francisco stores. It also began recycling coffee cups in Manhattan last year with help from Global Green USA.

In a 2005 waste audit, Starbucks found that 34 percent of its waste (by weight) was coffee grounds, which can be composted. Its paper waste (e.g. cardboard and newspaper) amounted to 25 percent, which can be recycled if the stores have access to paper recycling in their community.

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Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger

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