Starbucks targets EV charging, circularity in green pivot | WARC | The Feed
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Starbucks targets EV charging, circularity in green pivot
The American coffee titan is moving into a greener future through a partnership with Volvo that will see Starbucks’ sites integrate an electric vehicle (EV) charging network with its store footprint, along with other initiatives to reduce waste – but is there a bigger idea here behind the PR?
Why it matters
Yes, it has grabbed headlines; that’s the point. But we should try to judge what these ideas can do for the business beyond creating a short-term splash.
In the longer-term it will be interesting to see whether the coffee company sees any uplift in purchase frequency off the back of charging points or any increased profit margin from waste reduction. Green initiatives are still worth doing even if they cost the company money – this is the planet we’re talking about – but first-movers tend to act as the shock troops that other firms can follow without having to reinvent the wheel.
Aside from that, there are interesting details about the implementation of a circular return initiative. Ultimately, it’s hard to do, but done right is very likely to sway plenty of consumer decisions.
In an effort to become a “resource positive company”, one that puts back more than it takes, per the release, it is rolling out several environmental ideas. The plan, it says, is to reduce waste by 50% by 2030. EV charging and reusable cups as standard are the big ones.
EV charging with Volvo
- This idea will see chargers available at 15 Starbucks stores in the 1,350 miles it takes to drive from Denver to Starbucks HQ in Seattle.
- In effect, this means a Starbucks and a charging point every 100 miles. The partnership, then, aims to deliver an anxiety-reducing corridor by the end of 2022, joining a raft of other initiatives from car manufacturers and governments to accelerate EV take-up.
- It addresses two of the most common barriers to EV purchase: lack of charging points and concerns about range.
Re-usability as standard
- While changing the cups might seem simpler than installing electric infrastructure, this is the bit with moving parts.
- “By the end of next year, customers will be able to use their own personal reusable cup for every Starbucks visit in the U.S. and Canada – including in café, drive-thru and mobile order and pay”, the company says.
- Starbucks is testing several ‘borrow-a-cup’ models across highly developed markets like the US, UK, Japan, and Singapore. Getting rid of single-use cups is the eventual model, but question-marks remain over how much additional resources it will take to clean the cups.
- According to the Wall Street Journal, single-use cups and lids account for a fifth of the company’s total waste.
When we talk about companies leading on sustainability, it really means doing the difficult thinking and acting on behalf of your customers. It needs to be easy to be standard; while that’s tough in the short-term, waste and resource reduction will eventually be good for the bottom line (and can get ahead of potential future regulation).
This also understands that people have complicated emotions toward sustainability, with plenty of doubters and even nay-sayers who many big businesses don’t yet want to alienate.
Sourced from Starbucks, Reuters, WEF, WSJ, WARC
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