Starbucks Japan Works With Farmers To Reduce Coffee Waste By 50%, Commits To Reusable Cups, Renewables

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Starbucks has pledged to limit its waste through reuse and recycling initiatives in its Japan operations, as part of its Planet-Positive Agenda. It will launch a coffee grounds recycling program that will deliver new menu options to consumers, while at the same time supporting local farmers. It’s also emphasizing a reusable cups program to assist in waste reduction.

As part of the coffee giant’s global commitment to reduce its waste by 50% by 2030, Starbucks Japan, its third largest market globally, will unveil a new menu showcasing locally-sourced ingredients. These are produced through recycled coffee grounds. Apart from this, it will introduce tumbler recycling for customers and a cup share initiative. The three circularity strategies aims to create a positive impact for the local communities.

Coffee Grounds Recycling Loop program

Through this program, Starbucks collaborated with Japanese farmers since 2014 to recycle discarded coffee grounds from its Kanto and Kansai-based stores. These grounds are then used for agricultural compost and animal feed which produces vegetables, green tea, and milk. The ingredients obtained are incorporated into its signature beverages, such as lattes.

The brand is presently working with farmers to reintroduce these ingredients in its stores. At the moment, consumers can choose from three new menu items which contain locally-sourced carrots and matcha green tea powder. The items are – Matcha Cream Bar, Root Vegetable Chicken Salad Wrap, and Whole Carrot Cake.

For its Japan branch, coffee grounds are the top source of food waste. By taking these waste grounds to 28 farmers to produce food, along with using them for its store furnishings like art installations and trays, it aims to reduce its coffee waste by 50%.

Farmers participating in the program. Source: Starbucks Japan

“We set ambitious goals to become a resource-positive company, and we continue to explore innovative ways to bring our partners and communities together around the shared desire to protect the planet,” Channel Development and Global Coffee, Tea & Cocoa, John Culver said in a statement. “Launching a new closed-loop menu is another way to give our customers in Japan more options to enjoy lower-impact and locally-sourced ingredients as part of their Starbucks Experience.”

Apart from Japan, Starbucks has a similar program in South Korea, through which a range of packaged food items are produced and sold in its stores. In addition, it has a Grounds for Your Garden program, which connect markets like U.S., Indonesia and others to offer consumers garden fertilisers derived from discarded coffee grounds.

Launching a new closed-loop menu is another way to give our customers in Japan more options to enjoy lower-impact and locally-sourced ingredients as part of their Starbucks Experience

John Culver, group president, International, Channel Development and Global Coffee, Tea & Cocoa

In-store Recycling and Food Waste Reduction

In a pilot project set to launch this summer, the company will set up a tumbler collection and recycling program. This initiative will look to collect used tumblers from customers across its 500 stores. These will then be recycled to develop new merchandise items which will be available to buy from 2022.

It will further unveil a new food waste reduction program across all its stores in Japan. At the end of the day, customers would be able to buy unsold fresh products which are close to expiry at a discounted rate.

CEO of Starbucks Coffee Japan, Takafumi Minaguchi said: “Since first opening our doors to customers 25 years ago, we have grown our business in Japan responsibly, now operating more than 1,600 stores with 40,000 partners proudly wearing the green apron every day. As we work to create a more planet and people-positive future, we’re proud to have created a range of initiatives that will help create a culture of reuse, while providing new opportunities to give back to our farmers and the neighborhoods we serve. We will continue to deliver an unparalleled Starbucks Experience, while taking on challenges that benefit our people and communities across Japan.”

Carrot Cake. Source: Starbucks Japan

Ditch Single-Use Cups

Through its Reusable Cup-Share program across select stores in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo, customers will receive their beverages in reusable cups. These can be returned to any participating store. Once returned, they will be washed and sanitized by a third-party company.

Read: Aeon Launches Products With Loop’s Reusable Packaging In 19 Stores Across Japan

Other Initiatives

Apart from the above mentioned ones, Starbucks is looking at opening its Kokyo (Imperial Palace) Gaien Wadakura Fountain Park Store in Tokyo later this year. It will be designed in a sustainable manner using lower-impact materials. It plans to eventually shift all its electricity from its 350 free-standing company-operated stores to 100% renewables.

Going forward, it plans to open 100 stores each year, thus reaching a goal of 2000 stores by the end of 2024.

Elsewhere, Starbucks in South Korea committed to slashing its carbon footprint by 30% and ditching single-use cups by 2025 across all its 1500 stores by mid-decade. This is the coffee giant’s fifth largest market globally.

Read: Could Japan’s Daisugi Technique Save The Global Forestry Industry & The Planet?

Lead image courtesy of Starbucks Japan.


  • Tanuvi Joe

    Born and bred in India and dedicated to the cause of sustainability, Tanuvi Joe believes in the power of storytelling. Through her travels and conversations with people, she raises awareness and provides her readers with innovative ways to align themselves towards a kinder way of living that does more good than harm to the planet. Tanuvi has a background in Journalism, Tourism, and Sustainability, and in her free time, this plant parent surrounds herself with books and rants away on her blog Ruffling Wings.

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