At the start of 2020, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson committed the business to be ‘resource positive’, taking into account environmental goals to reduce carbon, water, and waste by 2030.

Starbucks created a set of goals it wants to achieve by 2030 which, it says, will result in carbon-neutral green coffee and a 50% conservation of water usage in green coffee processing.  

Michelle Burns, SVP of Global Coffee, Tea and Cocoa at Starbucks said:

As we celebrate 50 years of Starbucks, we are looking ahead at ways we can reimagine the future and continue to inspire and nurture the human spirit.,

For farmers and their communities, we know it is critical we work together to address the challenges they face associated with climate change which are making it increasingly difficult to grow high-quality coffee.

By reducing carbon emissions and conserving water, we can help farmers be more productive while we are also contributing to a better planet and bringing coffee to customers in a sustainable way.

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The latest announcement on their progression and road to achieving these goals:

Carbon Neutral Green Coffee

In order for Starbucks to work towards its 2030 goals of carbon-neutral green coffee, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in coffee at Origin then compensating for any remaining emissions, they will deploy 3 primary strategies:

  • Decreasing carbon emissions in Starbucks supply chain by equipping farmers with precision agronomy tools.

Through Starbucks Farmer Support Centers and a new soil scanning mobile app, the company is helping farmers understand the specific nutrients and fertilizer needed to increase farm productivity.

More than 11,500 soil and foliar samples have been collected to date. With these custom, farm-specific solutions, farmers can target and decrease fertilizer use, which helps to decrease carbon emissions on their farms and increase farm productivity.

  • Promoting and distributing climate-resistant tree varietals.

Starbucks shares research, seeds, and seedlings with farmers all around the world, helping farmers to adapt to climate change, with their open-source agronomy approach.

These climate-resistant varietals are rust-resistant and enable farmers to grow more coffee on the same amount of land, ultimately reducing overall carbon emissions.

  • Protecting and restoring at-risk forests in key coffee landscapes.

Working in partnership with Conservation International, Starbucks will invest in forest and landscape protection and restoration programs in coffee-producing countries, starting in Colombia and Peru.

These agro-forestry efforts will not only remove carbon and support the carbon neutral pathway, but also will benefit freshwater ecosystems and coffee communities.

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Conserve Water At Origin

Traditional coffee processing is water-intensive. With 200,000 wet mills in the Starbucks C.A.F.E. Practice supply chain, Starbucks has an opportunity to conserve water by ensuring farmers have access to more environmentally friendly machines, which also standardises quality and increases processing efficiency for farmers.

In order for Starbucks to work towards achieving its 50% conservation in water usage by 2030, the company will:

  • Conserve water by directly investing in new ecological wet mills for C.A.F.E. Practice farms. 

Over the last year, Starbucks purchased nearly 600 eco-mills that have been distributed to coffee farms in Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Kenya, and Rwanda, resulting in up to 80% water savings in coffee processing where installed.

  • Investing to make current water processing technology and machinery more efficient.

Through Starbucks Tryer Center, they are working with suppliers to explore improvements to existing water processing machinery and technology.

Meanwhile, through their Farmer Support Centers, they are conducting research and gathering insights from farmers to inform future machine design and operations.  

  • Develop water replenishment projects in coffee communities.

As part of Starbucks long-term water strategy, the company will develop water replenishment projects at Origin, with a focus on communities and basins with high water risk.

Sbx2021319 Starbucks Coffee Farm 1

Over the last year, Starbucks launched programs in Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, and Kenya to test its carbon and water strategies impacting more than 92,000 farms.

In addition to investing in new water-conserving wet mills, Starbucks worked with farmers to gather more than 11,500 soil and foliar samples to inform soil health.

Based on the success of these initial pilots, Starbucks is now expanding the program to Colombia and launching a new holistic sustainability project with 100 small-holder farmers in Nariño, Colombia.

Over a five-year period, the Nariño project will combine the best of Starbucks knowledge and resources on regenerative agriculture, precision agronomy and farm economics.

Farmers will receive hands-on support including customised, in-depth agricultural and business education and training to best manage their crops and land.

They will also receive new equipment and facilities to optimise for reduced water use and carbon emissions and new, climate-resistant coffee seedlings to replace unproductive trees.

This project and partnership with Starbucks will help farmers increase their productivity, quality and profitability while decreasing the environmental footprint generated from coffee growing and processing.

Conservation Int

Starbucks is working with Conservation International and others, to advise and evolve its carbon-neutral coffee roadmap and measurement methodology. Starbucks will share learnings to help the entire industry.

The company has also joined the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, a CEO-led coalition, as well as the Water Resilience Coalition to elevate their corporate water agenda and partner with other leading companies on collective action projects in key basins around the world.

Jason Morrison, Head of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate said:

On behalf of the CEO Water Mandate team, I am proud to welcome Starbucks to the Water Resilience Coalition’s leadership committee and to working together to advance water stewardship in key basins.

This is in line with Starbucks aspiration to be a resource-positive and longstanding history of sustainability work, particularly with coffee farmers on climate-and-water smart agriculture practices.

We look forward to having Starbucks join this cohort of leading companies to collectively tackle watershed health issues that will enable more resilient supply chains and farming communities around the world.

Starbucks will continue to measure its overall carbon and water footprint and share progress annually in its Global Environmental Social Impact Report. 

The company is also working with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to validate the 2030 corporate sustainability goals, inclusive of green coffee.


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