Starbucks Measures to Support Sustainable Human Development


Daria Tsepetsauner

Daria Tsepetsauner

Maria Pogonina

Maria Pogonina

Anastasia Gavrilova

Anastasia Gavrilova

Artem Turkov

Artem Turkov

Aleksei Smirnov

Aleksei Smirnov


The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)


Natalia Yankovskaya

Natalia Yankovskaya

Global Goals

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

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This business innovation is aimed at addressing the environmental impact of the coffee industry through the development and implementation of sustainable waste management practices. This initiative encompasses various aspects, including waste reduction, recycling programs, and the promotion of reusable alternatives.

These practices help to achieve the following sustainable goals: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure (9), Responsible Consumption & Production (12), and Climate Action (13).


The Starbucks Recycling Initiative globally is named Planet Positive Commitment and represents a business innovation aimed at addressing the environmental impact of the coffee industry through the development and implementation of a sustainable waste management system.

Their goal by 2025 is to create a cultural movement towards reusables by giving customers easy access to a personal or Starbucks-provided reusable cup for every visit, making it convenient to reuse wherever customers are enjoying their Starbucks experience.

To help make reusables convenient for customers, they are testing multiple reusable programs and operating models:

Borrow A Cup: Customers can choose to order their beverages using specially designated reusable cups at Starbucks. These cups are designed to be returned to the stores, where they are professionally cleaned and made available for other customers to use. This initiative was initially tested in Seattle last year, and we currently have ongoing pilot programs in Japan, Singapore, and London. Each program has intentional differences, including unique names, as Starbucks aims to identify the most effective operational model on a global scale.

100% Reusable Operating Models: In this program, the use of single-use cups is completely eliminated, and instead, customers are encouraged to opt for reusable options such as personal cups or for-here-ware. This will be the first test conducted in a university campus environment, building upon the innovative partnership between Starbucks and ASU to promote the use of personal cups.

The Starbucks Recycling Initiative in Russia represented a business innovation focused on implementing sustainable waste management practices specifically tailored to the Russian market. This initiative encompassed various strategies and programs aimed at reducing waste, promoting recycling, and encouraging responsible consumption.

Starbucks Measures to Support Sustainable Human Development


"Our goal was to implement SDC tactics in Russian Starbucks to increase financial performance" (Ernesto Gonzalez).

The innovation emerged as a response to the growing concerns about the environmental impact of single-use coffee cups and other packaging materials used by Starbucks. It reflects the company's commitment to sustainability and its recognition of the need to reduce waste and promote responsible consumption.

"I think that these goals are very important because they ensure the future for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I think that now the contribution of each person [in increasing social responsibility of business] is important, what can be shown by personal example", says Ernesto Gonzalez.

The original idea for the Starbucks Recycling Initiative in Russia was born out of a combination of factors, including market research, customer feedback, and the company's commitment to sustainability. Starbucks recognized the need to address the environmental impact of the coffee industry in Russia, specifically regarding the generation of waste from single-use cups and packaging materials. The company aimed to find innovative solutions to minimize waste and promote responsible consumption habits among customers.

The motivation and purpose behind the Starbucks Recycling Initiative in Russia were rooted in Starbucks' broader mission of environmental stewardship and social responsibility. The company aimed to lead the way in the Russian coffee market by setting an example for sustainable waste management practices. Starbucks understood that its actions could inspire positive change not only within the organization but also within the wider business community and society at large.

"Everyone's contribution is priceless, the SDGs can be achieved only if the outlook of most people changes, I think that in Russia could cover more corporate responsibility issues, conduct surveys, confirm the interest of the consumer base in socially responsible business" emphasised Ernesto Gonzalez.

Overall impact

The impact of the innovation on the business:

  • Shifting from disposable plastic cups and straps to reusable tableware led to cost savings. Cups alone account for about 20% of the company's waste volume. Their purchase and disposal require large financial costs, which can be avoided when switching to reusable dishes;
  • Attracting new customers. In the course of the research conducted by Starbucks, it turned out that 40-45% of respondents under the age of 35 said they were ready to buy goods from a socially responsible company.

The impact of the innovation on society:

  • Promotion of sustainable practices: Starbucks' campaign promotes sustainable practices and raises awareness about the importance of minimizing waste. By encouraging customers to bring their own reusable containers, the company fosters a culture of sustainability and encourages individuals to make environmentally responsible choices;
  • Education and behavior change: The campaign provides an opportunity to educate customers about the environmental impact of single-use plastics. It helps raise awareness about the need to reduce plastic waste and encourages individuals to adopt more sustainable habits in their daily lives. By actively participating in this initiative, customers become more conscious of their consumption patterns and are more likely to make eco-friendly choices beyond Starbucks;
  • Influence on industry and other businesses: Starbucks is a global leader in the food and beverage industry, and its commitment to reducing plastic waste sets an example for other businesses. By implementing sustainable practices, Starbucks can inspire and influence other companies to adopt similar initiatives, leading to a broader positive impact on society and the environment;
  • Collaboration with customers and communities: Starbucks' campaign creates an opportunity for collaboration between the company, customers, and local communities. By involving customers in the transition to multi-use dishes, Starbucks fosters a sense of shared responsibility and empowers individuals to make a positive impact on the environment. This collaboration can extend beyond Starbucks and create a ripple effect in communities as customers adopt sustainable practices in other aspects of their lives.

The impact of the innovation on the environment:

  • Reduces damage to aquatic life: Plastic disposable cups and plastic lids contribute to the killing of 100,000 sea mammals, turtles and fish every year. Every time you use your reusable coffee cup, you save one plastic cup from potentially ending up in the bottom of the ocean;
  • Less damage to flying wildlife: The occasional stray plastic cup might seem relatively harmless at first, but they injure and kill flying wildlife every day in the form of digestive blockage, internal and external injuries, plumage disruption and habitat loss;
  • Less chemicals from manufacturing plants: Reusable cups cut down on the overproduction of some of the different plastics used to make single-use drinkware. These include polypropylene, polystyrene (Styrofoam), polyethylene (PET), its recycled materials equivalent rPET, etc. Furthermore, these common plastics contain the hazardous chemical BPA, a chemical which has been linked to all kinds of health issues;
  • Saves sanitary resources: When consumers cut disposable cups out of their life in favor of reusable alternatives, this choice triggers a domino effect of positive changes in terms of sustainability. Reducing the amount of trash not only saves it from becoming pollution, but also saves sanitary resources including garbage collection, industrial/hazardous waste management, and wastewater treatment and disposal.

Short-term effects:

  • Operational adjustments;
  • Customer behavior change;
  • Сost savings.

Long-term effects:

  • Cost savings;
  • Environmental impact;
  • Enhanced brand image;
  • Customer loyalty and acquisition.

Concrete evidence suggests that this impact has occurred:

  • Starbucks, it turned out that 40-45% of respondents under the age of 35 said they were ready to buy goods from a socially responsible company. such changes will increase profits and attract new customers;
  • Starbucks-commissioned research in February found that almost half (48%) of people surveyed said they would carry a reusable cup, saving money and reducing waste. The percentage of customers bringing in their own cup or tumbler since the launch of this cup charge trial has increased to 5.9% in the trial stores, up from 2.2% in the same stores before the trial began. The most significant change has been in the mornings with 8.4% of customers in trial stores now using a reusable cup or tumbler;
  • Cups account for about 20% of the company's waste volume. Starbucks produces approximately 7 plastic cups, for the purchase and subsequent disposal of which a large amount of sources is spent.

Business benefit

The Starbucks Recycling Initiative has had a significant impact on both the business and society. From a business perspective, the innovation has resulted in cost savings by shifting from disposable plastic cups to reusable tableware. Cups alone accounted for about 20% of the company's waste volume, and the switch to reusable dishes has helped reduce financial costs associated with their purchase and disposal.

Furthermore, the initiative has attracted new customers, particularly among the younger demographic. Research conducted by Starbucks revealed that 40-45% of respondents under the age of 35 expressed their willingness to support socially responsible companies. By implementing sustainable waste management practices, Starbucks has positioned itself as a leader in environmental stewardship, appealing to customers who value sustainability and responsible consumption.

In summary, the Starbucks Recycling Initiative not only benefits the environment and society but also brings numerous advantages to the company. It enhances brand reputation, fosters customer loyalty, reduces costs, improves operational efficiency, attracts talent, ensures regulatory compliance, and facilitates partnerships. By aligning its business practices with sustainability goals, Starbucks remains a leader in the coffee industry while making a positive impact on the world around it.

Social and environmental benefit

Starbucks' recycling initiative has several societal and environmental benefits:

Reduction in waste: Starbucks' recycling initiative aims to reduce the amount of waste generated by their business. By recycling materials like coffee grounds, food waste, and paper cups, they can divert these materials from landfills and reduce the number of resources required to manufacture new items;

Soil enrichment: One of the primary focuses of the recycling initiative is to recycle coffee grounds. By recycling these grounds, Starbucks can convert them into compost and provide a beneficial resource for farmers and gardeners. The compost can help enrich soil and improve crop yields;

Energy conservation: Starbucks also looks to recycle used milk jugs and water bottles. By recycling these materials, Starbucks can help reduce the need to produce new plastic, which saves energy and reduces CO2 emissions;

Contribution to the circular economy: Starbucks' recycling initiative is part of a circular economy that promotes an economic system that is regenerative, where products are made to be used for longer and can be reused or recycled at the end of their useful lives. Through this initiative, Starbucks is taking responsibility for not only the products they produce but also for the lifecycle of those products.

Overall, Starbucks' recycling initiative offers significant societal and environmental benefits, reducing waste, enriching soil, conserving energy, and contributing to a more sustainable business model.


Ernesto Gonzalez, Vice President Starbucks for Russia and Kazakhstan

Photo of interviewee

Business information



Seattle, WA, US
Business Website:
Year Founded: 1971
Number of Employees: 10000+

Starbucks Corporation is an American multinational chain of coffeehouses and roastery reserves headquartered in Seattle, Washington. It is the world's largest coffeehouse chain.

The rise of the second wave of coffee culture is generally attributed to Starbucks, which introduced a wider variety of coffee experiences. Starbucks serves hot and cold drinks, whole-bean coffee, micro-ground instant coffee, espresso, caffe latte, full and loose-leaf teas, juices, Frappuccino beverages, pastries, and snacks. Some offerings are seasonal or specific to the locality of the store.