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Energy Efficiency

Starbucks Adds an Extra Shot With the Net Zero Initiative

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Starbucks Joins the Net Zero Initiative to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Starbucks has always been known for its sustainable and environmentally-friendly business practices. This year, it takes those commitments one step further with an announcement that the coffee giant will join the dairy industry’s Net Zero Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With a remarkable drink menu that includes everything from caramel macchiatos to vanilla lattes to flat whites and beyond, there’s no doubt that dairy is a cornerstone of the Starbucks biz. In fact, according to the company’s Sustainability Finance Manager Morgan Collins, dairy makes up 20 percent of Starbucks’ supply chain. Because of this, joining the dairy community for this effort is a win-win for the company, the dairy industry, and the environment. Plus – it comes with one addition that cutting-edge coffee lovers have been craving: oat milk will soon be an option at all Starbucks stores, arriving in stores this spring.

The Net Zero Initiative was developed by dairy industry leaders and farmers and is a partnership of members of the United States dairy community including Dairy Management Inc., the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy (known for more than a decade of great work in animal care, food safety, sustainable nutrition, environmental stewardship, and people and community), Newtrient, the National Milk Producers Federation, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and the International Dairy Foods Association. The group’s main goal is to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the industry, with an additional focus on optimizing water usage and improving water quality on dairy farms across the country.

“We share Starbucks’ commitment to creating a more sustainable planet for future generations and look forward to partnering with them to reach net-zero carbon emissions for dairy,” said Mike Haddad, chairman of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “This partnership reinforces the critical role dairy plays in sustainable diets, and Starbucks’ participation in the Net Zero Initiative will help enable, advance and scale new technologies on dairy farms of all sizes across the country.”

To reach the Net Zero Initiative’s goals, Starbucks will reduce 50 percent of its carbon footprint across the globe by 2030. This includes using many milk alternatives, including the in-demand oat option. The company also recently became a founding member of the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance to repurpose food waste in their supply chain into renewable energy at farm-based anaerobic digesters.

As one of the largest users of milk in America, Starbucks’ sustainable moves truly have an impact. By joining in the Net Zero Initiative, the company will help improve economically-viable environmental practices and technologies for dairy farms, including positive changes in feed production, cow handling, manure disposal, and on-farm energy efficiency. Haddad added that the overall idea is to knock down barriers through what he described as “foundational science, on-farm pilots and the development of new markets and create incentives for farmers that will lead to economic viability and positive environmental impact.” The initiative clearly and positively affects the environment, and it’s good for the health and safety of the cows too.

Joining the Net Zero Initiative is just one of Starbucks’ many sustainable practices. The company also recently announced a multi-decade commitment to become a resource positive company by storing more carbon than it emits, eliminating waste, and replenishing more water than it uses. Recent additional changes include expanded plant-based menu options, greener cups and lids, a massive Global Farmer Fund, an investment in wind and solar, and investments in disease-resistant coffee trees.

Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson says the company is fully committed to a “Planet Positive Future.” Joining the dairy industry for the Net Zero Initiative is just one of many examples where the company is working together with other groups to make significant, sustainable, and impactful changes in how the global food supply operates. By vocally supporting sustainable dairy, Starbucks sets a positive example for other coffee chains, drink manufacturers, and restaurants.

“Our Planet Positive initiatives have a central role in our long-term business strategy, and directly address what our customers are asking for,” said Johnson. “We are moving toward a more circular economy, and we are doing so in a very intentional, transparent, and accountable way.” 

Starbucks’ Chief Sustainability Officer Michael Kobori is equally excited about the new dairy partnership:

“U.S. Dairy’s Net Zero Initiative will create impact at the industry level and supports Starbucks’ commitment to sustainable dairy,” he said. “We are looking forward to partnering on this pioneering initiative to help benefit the U.S. dairy industry, consumers, and the planet.”

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