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Where is the Recycling at Starbucks?

I don't go into Starbucks very much any more because I pretty much break out in eco-hives seeing all of that plastic and paper waste being shuttled across the counter and out into the unsuspecting, inundated world. But occasionally I have to break down and get an ice coffee with a shot of hazelnut.

And so I did last week, and tho' it was refreshing and delicious, I had the same nagging thought I have every time I go there--"Why oh why are there no recycling bins at Starbucks???"

Wistfully I looked at the display of Ethos Water bottles and realized if I bought and drank one, I would be in the position to put my bottle into the trash. Now where is the Ethos in that?

Then I saw the business card of the store's District Manager! Right there on the barista bar, there was a stack of her cards. Brilliant! I will contact this woman and she will illuminate the Starbucks recycling mystery for me. And she did respond to my email and she was great. She said she was personally concerned about this issue and that when she managed a store herself, she worked on getting recycling in place. Then she informed me that "The long and the short of it is that every store is a little different, depending on the landlord and the recycling capacity." And here is the official word from Starbucks:

"Starbucks is committed to protecting and improving the environment, and is continually pursuing opportunities to reduce, reuse, and recycle our waste products where commercial facilities exist. Most of our retail store recycling is conducted "behind the scenes" in the back room (boxes, milk jugs, etc.). If you are not certain that recycling is taking place in a store, please ask a store manager; he/she can explain what we are doing, what is recyclable in the local area, and what the landlord will allow for waste disposal. One of our challenges is that some parts of the country can process more recyclable materials than others. We are working with a recycling subcontractor to locate local recycling facilities to process materials generated from each store."

Well that's sort of okay...but only sort of. I don't think out-sourcing the process to the local stores is really going to get the job done. Starbucks may need a National Recycling Czar. (Or do they have one already?) And here's another notion-- why not give a discount to people who bring in their own re-usable cups and mugs? That would really help educate folks about the importance of moving beyond disposables.

To be fair, I also decided to kick the tires at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I went to two stores in Los Angeles and again, no blue bins. Now I was really sad. Where in this town can a girl recycle her plastic cup? Her water bottle? Do we have to take everything home?

Here's where you come in: we can let our coffee chain friends know where we stand on recycling. Starbucks can be reached by clicking here or you can call 1-800-235-2883. (I did and I spoke with a charming guy who shared my concern.) For Coffee Bean you can click here to register your thoughts, or you can call them at 1-800 EA-LEAF (1-800-832-5323).

Thanks and I'll see you on line at the counter! Don't take the last maple scone. 

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