Starbucks Chooses Shanghai For First Circular ‘Greener Store’ Outside North America

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Starbucks has chosen Shanghai as the first destination for its Greener Store concept outside of North America. Opening this week, the new store is fitted with repurposed materials and zero-waste initiatives and marks the first in a series of circular store openings the coffee giant has planned for Japan, Chile and the UK. 

Starbucks has just opened a Greener Store in Shanghai, marking the first time the concept has landed outside of North America. Located in Qiantan Taikooli, the store is “designed and built to reduce waste, repurpose goods and serve as a platform for future innovation” as the coffee chain looks to bolster its eco-credentials. 

Opening its doors on Thursday (September 30), it comes just days after Starbucks launched a global reusables campaign that saw as many as 2 million cups handed out to customers within its Asia-Pacific markets alone.

Oat milk as the default

With Starbucks’ reliance on dairy accounting for a fifth of its total greenhouse gas emissions and a seventh of its water footprint, Greener Store Shanghai will boast a plant-forward menu with at least 50% of the items on offer being meat and dairy-free. 

Oat milk will become the “default option” for “most beverages” on offer, though no exact percentage was provided. Similarly, Silicon Valley cult favourite coffee chain Blue Bottle has tested the oat milk as default concept in several of its locations.

Starbucks Greener Store Shanghai will additionally launch 15 new food items, including meatless bakery, wraps, sandwiches, salads, cakes and pastries. 

It marks an extension of Starbucks’ global plant-based push that started last year, when the chain launched a new vegetarian menu in collaboration with Beyond Meat, Oatly and OmniFoods, before extending its plant-forward strategy to eight key Asian markets, with Impossible Foods also on board. 

When Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson made the company’s “resource-positive” pledge in 2020, he noted that plant-based milk will be a “big part of the solution” when it comes to footprint reduction.

Greener Store eco-fittings

The new Shanghai-based Greener Store features interiors made with recycled, upcycled or biodegradable materials, such as wood reclaimed from the renovation of other Starbucks stores across the country to make tabletops, and table bases coming from recycled red bricks. The “modular bar” at the centre of the store is designed to enable reuse and recycling, thanks to its easy dismantle-and-reassemble design, says the company. 

Down to daily operations, the iconic green aprons worn by Starbucks employees are made from recycled Starbucks PET cups, with each saving around 1 kilogram of CO2, the chain claims. The entire store is powered by renewable energy, the first Starbucks store within China to make the shift away from fossil fuels. 

To lower its waste footprint, the store will be recycling 100% of the coffee grounds from the store and turning it into fertiliser. 

Being the first Greener Store outside North America, Starbucks says it now plans to launch the concept across other international markets, including in Japan, Chile and the UK. Within China alone, it says it will be extending the scheme to cover 60 stores, renovating existing locations by October 2022. 

Sustainable QSR

Source: Burger King / Loop

With sustainability taking over almost every industry, QSR chains have been ramping up their green commitments in a bid to keep up with changing consumer preferences. Starbucks’ latest reusable cup push, for instance, came after similar initiatives launched by Burger King and McDonald’s to test reusable containers. 

Both fast food chains are working with zero-waste delivery pioneers Loop to offer customers drinks and food in takeout containers that can later be dropped off in stores, before being sanitised and then used again. 

Burger King and McDonald’s, like Starbucks, have also increased their plant-based offerings in recent months, with the former launching Plant Based Whoppers across its stores globally with food techs like The Vegetarian Butcher and v2food, while the Golden Arches recently debuted its fully vegan McPlant developed with Beyond Meat in the UK. 

All images courtesy of Starbucks, unless otherwise credited.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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