Plastic pressure applied to Starbucks

Advocacy groups seek minimal use of disposable plastic items by retailer.

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March 20, 2018
Edited by Brian Taylor

A coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are part of the “Break Free From Plastic” effort has targeted Seattle-based Starbucks in its campaign for the reduced use of disposable plastic items.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018, members of the “Starbucks: Break Free From Plastic” coalition plan to protest outside Starbucks’ annual shareholder meeting and deliver petition signatures from the more than 884,000 people it indicates “are calling on the coffee giant to take responsibility for its contribution to the global plastic pollution crisis.”

At the Starbucks annual meeting, corporate responsibility group As You Sow will present a shareholder proposal requesting Starbucks phase out its use of single-use plastic straws. Starbucks is urging its shareholders to vote “no” on the proposal, according to a news release from the Starbucks: Break Free From Plastic coalition.

If Starbucks does phase out its use of disposable plastic items, it is unclear what impact that would have on the problem of ocean-bound plastics.

A 2017 study by the Germany-based Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research determined that some 90 percent of the plastic floating in the world’s oceans arrived there via 10 large river basin systems, eight of which are in Asia while the other two are in Africa.

The majority of Starbucks locations are in North America, Europe and large cities in Asia, where comprehensive solid waste collection infrastructure is in place.

Starbucks: Break Free From Plastic bills itself as a campaign led by more than a dozen environmental organizations. The coalition formed ahead of Starbucks’ 2018 annual shareholder meeting and includes 5 Gyres, Care2, Clean Water Action, CREDO, Change.org, Greenpeace USA, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Stand.earth, The Story of Stuff Project, SumOfUs, Texas Campaign for the Environment, UPSTREAM, Hannah4Change, Captain Planet Foundation, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Plastik Diet Kantong, Heirs to Our Oceans, Wild at Heart Taiwan, Jack Johnson’s All At Once community, StudentPIRGS and Project Coyote.