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Starbucks wants to serve more coffee in reusable cups, offer more plant-based foods

  • Starbucks says it wants to cut its carbon, waste and water use by 50% within a decade.
  • To reach those goals, CEO Kevin Johnson said the coffee chain will limit single-use plastics and add plant-based foods. 
  • The company is testing ways to encourage consumers to use reusable cups and utensils, as well as meat alternatives in its breakfast foods.

Starbucks said Tuesday it wants to slash the company's carbon emissions, water use and waste sent to landfills by 50% by 2030, part of what CEO Kevin Johnson said is part of the coffee chain's goal to become "resource positive."

To that end, Starbucks said it wants to shift away from single-use packaging to reusable cups and utensils, as well as expand its plant-based menu options. The company is testing reusable products at different locations, including Gatwick Airport in the U.K. It's also testing meat alternatives for its breakfast menu, a spokeswoman said. 

"Earlier this month we rolled out more plant-based coffee beverages in the U.S. including testing oat milk in the Midwest," she added. "We're also testing meat alternatives for our breakfast menu. Customers can expect to see more plant-based options from us this year and beyond."    

Environmental groups have targeted Starbucks for contributing to global pollution, with advocacy group Clean Water Action estimating that the chain uses more than 8,000 paper cups a minute. The coffee chain has made steps toward sustainability and improving its ecological impact, pledging two years ago to eliminate all plastic straws by 2020. 

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In an open letter published on Tuesday, Johnson said that Starbucks must "think bigger and do much more in partnership with others to take care of the planet we share." The effort "will require transformational change," he wrote. "Like most things that are worthwhile, this will not be easy."

The goal "means storing more carbon than we emit, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than we use," Johnson added.

To that end, Starbucks said it will shift from single-use to reusable packaging; add more plant-based drinks and menu options; invest in regenerative environmental practices, both in agriculture and waste; and develop "eco-friendly" stores. 

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