Starbucks Creates “The Cup Summit” to Make Paper Cups 100% Recyclable

In an effort to think cradle-to-cradle Starbucks is taking on the 58 billion paper cups American’s use annually. As a company contributing an estimated 3 billion cups into the waste stream annually, Starbucks goal is to make all paper cups 100% recyclable by 2012.

The thing I find most interesting about this, is their efforts to not just change their business, but the industry as a whole. As part of their effort, Starbucks conducted its first Cup Summit at its Seattle headquarters, gathering experts from every facet of the cup supply chain, including raw material providers, cup manufacturers, cup converters, environmental NGOs, waste management companies, competitors / peer companies, academics, and municipalities where the recycling programs and collections would ultimately have to take place.

“What you’ve seen in the past is somebody will call a product recyclable based on the materiality of that product and not necessarily whether or not it’s actually able to get recycled… For us to actually call our cups recyclable, they have to be recyclable in the communities where we operate our stores.” Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact for Starbucks said in his interview in

Hanna went on to state that it’s the first time they know of where the entire chain of one product was in the same room discussing a product’s lifecycle, across industries and competition.

In a world where big companies are throwing their weight around all the time edging out the little guys, I find it actually slightly refreshing to see that power applied to an altruistic cause. Of course these changes if implemented will secure Starbucks positioning at the top of the coffee food chain, but if they can do it, it will surely be a model for other products and industries across the board.

Thanks Mariel, for the hot tip!