Jan 21, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Starbucks joins the carbon pledge trend

starbucks storefront
Starbucks storefront. Photo: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Starbucks hopes to cut carbon emissions from its operations and huge supply chain by 50% by 2030 as part of new environmental pledges unveiled Tuesday.

Why it matters: Starbucks is the latest multinational giant to set new targets as global emissions rise and multilateral efforts fail to even lay the groundwork for steep cuts.

The intrigue: The commitments, while lacking detail for now, hint that Starbucks hopes to fund so-called negative emissions methods and tech. That's a key part of commitments Microsoft unveiled last week.

What they're saying: “We will both store carbon and reduce carbon emissions. Offsets do not count towards a science-based target, and we do not plan to utilize offsets to meet our preliminary target of 50% reduction in our carbon footprint,” Rebecca Zimmer, the company's global environment director, tells Axios.

The big picture: CEO Kevin Johnson, in an open letter, says Starbucks' wider aspiration is eventually becoming "resource positive," defined as "storing more carbon than we emit, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than we use."

Starbucks laid out two other interim 2030 targets in addition to the CO2 pledge:

  1. 50% of the water used for its operations and coffee production will be "conserved or replenished."
  2. They pledge a 50% cut in waste that's sent to landfills from stores and manufacturing.

What's next: The plan envisions more plant-based food offerings; a shift from single-use to reusable packages; investing in "innovative and regenerative" farm and forest practices; and more. Starbucks plans to conduct market research and trials over the next year to add details.

Go deeper: Massive companies' green commitments can't save the planet

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