Business Spotlight: Starbucks Serves Up Renewables

As one of the nation’s most iconic brands, Starbucks is no stranger to making headlines. In the wake of Starbucks’ announcement to eliminate plastic straws from their stores by 2020, the coffee juggernaut has drawn some teasing from cable news commentators and late-night TV hosts. But the fact is, they are very serious about doing everything they can to implement sustainable business practices, which is well documented—especially using their considerable economic might to push towards a clean energy future.

The company has been keen on renewables for years. They began investing in renewable sources in 2005 and laid out the ambitious goal of using 100 percent renewable electricity to power their stores by 2015. Starbucks met that goal right on time, and this year they’ve been taking steps to set new sustainability targets.

In April, Starbucks invested in a large-scale solar panel project located in North Carolina. This project has real economic implications, as Starbucks is yet another example in a trend of corporate entities taking it upon themselves to make the changes they want to see in our nation’s energy grid. The Solar panel project will generate enough clean energy to power 600 Starbucks stores in North Carolina.

That same month, they announced their participation in the Green Direct project, which is a joint operation with Puget Sound Energy, a Washington State utility company, to ensure Starbuck’s Washington locations are powered by renewable energy over the long term. The construction of a new wind farm has been planned as part of the plan and will generate enough clean energy for 116 Starbucks stores, as well as the company’s roasting facility in Kent, Washington.

Patrick Leonard of Starbuck’s Energy & Resource Management clarifies the company’s intentions, expalining, “Green Direct is a way Starbucks can select what type of energy we buy, rather than that being predetermined by the utility, so we can put the money we spend on electricity into renewable energy projects.”

This type of initiative is a prime example of private sector innovation. By partnering with a local utility company, Starbucks will create new jobs in clean energy and give businesses the option to select the energy plan that fits them best.

Starbucks isn’t the only company who’s pushing the envelope when it comes to sustainability. Take a look at our Business Spotlight series for more stories on companies that are getting serious about renewables.


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