I’m sure we’ve all seen this before. It’s the sleeve that Starbucks gives you so you don’t burn your fingers on a cup of their coffee. It’s also an output of their social responsibility programming. Starbucks, to their credit, has been active and progressive in their CSR activities – placing an strong emphasis on using only fair trade coffee, reducing their environmental footprint and leveraging their purchasing power to work only with suppliers that help them minimize their impact on the environment. All very noble efforts that I am in no position to argue with or criticize.
I got this sleeve after ordering my standard venti latte, extra hot, no foam. I am, it seems, rather simply in my own coffee consumption. But I found something troubling when I turned over to the other side of the sleeve (you should be able to click on it for a closer inspection).
There are two prominent pieces of text on the back of the sleeve. The first talks about Starbucks’ commitment to reducing their environment impact – great! It even has a call-to-action for consumers to help them help the planet. Okay, no issues there. The second piece of text, right below the first statement, mentions how this is the first 60% post-consumer fiber sleeve. Again, great. This is tangible proof of Starbucks’ environmental commitment.
But there are also two things that I find to be completely at odds with these two statements.
1. There is no recycling symbol on the sleeve.
2. If you look closely, right above the legal jargon protecting Starbucks rights and patents, you’ll see the phrase "Intended for single use only".
That statement & omission seem to me at odds with everything else that Starbucks says and does regarding their environmental policies and programs. Are we not to recycle this sleeve? Instead just use it once and throw it out with the rest of the garbage? It seems that post consumer fibers can still be recycled. Shouldn’t Starbucks make sure that they pay attention to the details and do all that they can to get consumers to take heed of the ‘help us help’ call-to-action?
I’d like to think that this is not what Starbucks intended. However, these details, though likely unnoticed by the vast majority of consumers – I, for example, have consumed hundreds of Starbucks coffees without picking up on this – are troubling to me.
Sadly, for me, Starbucks trips up in this attempt to walk to talk…