Introduction to Starbucks

Founded in 1971, Starbucks Corporation is a chain of American coffees which over time has produced coffee pods but also coffee machines.

In 2019, after Nestlé obtained the license to sell coffee in supermarkets, Nestlé launched the first Starbucks capsules in France available in supermarkets. Simple to buy, easy to use and allowing consumers to make their favorite drinks from the American chain, the product became the major competitor of the Nespresso brand in a very short time.

Inspiring and nurturing the human spirit.


Carbon Footprint, High

Starbucks has set ambitious goals to reduce its carbon emissions, aiming for a 50% reduction by 2030 compared to a 2018 baseline. In 2018, Starbucks’ total carbon emissions were 16.7 million metric tons, including 320,000 tons of direct scope 1 emissions and 1.1 million tons of scope 2 emissions.

To achieve its 2030 target, Starbucks estimates it needs to reduce its emissions by 826,000 tons per year, representing an annual reduction of 5.6%. To do this, the company is investing in sustainable agriculture and waste reduction initiatives.

Ecological Impact, High

Starbucks is working on initiatives aimed at reducing its impact on the planet. For example, by planning to donate 100 million disease-resistant coffee trees by 2025 to help farmers, today already 50 million have been donated. These trees are bred to produce more coffee cherries and to resist diseases such as coffee leaf rust.

Energy Consumption, High

Starbucks has been implementing plans to reduce energy consumption in its stores and operations through various measures, including using energy-efficient equipment and investing in renewable energy sources.

Since 2015, Starbucks has sourced 100% of its energy from renewable sources for over 9,000 of its stores in the United States, Canada, and the EMEA region. The brand has developed a wind project. This installation of 38 turbines with a capacity of 137 megawatts provides renewable energy to approximately 140 Starbucks stores and the company’s Kent Roasting Plant, as well as numerous communities in Washington.

Freight Density, High

Starbucks strives to optimize freight density by enhancing logistics and packaging efficiency. For instance, Starbucks coffee capsules are designed to be lightweight and compact to optimize transportation and distribution. They are packaged in recyclable cardboard boxes that maximize the number of capsules per package.

Starbucks has also shared specific guidelines regarding its packaging. As a result, all packaging must be safe, environmentally friendly, and free from certain materials such as PVC or expanded polystyrene.

Recycling Rates, Medium

Starbucks is aware of the environmental impact of its coffee pods and has taken steps to reduce their environmental footprint. The company offers a mail-in recycling program for the pods, which will send the used pods to TerraCycle for proper disposal. This program allows customers to have their used pods recycled, while also reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Saving Levels, Medium

Starbucks has implemented various efficiency measures to save energy and reduce emissions. The company made progress by reducing its emissions by 11% in 2020, but unfortunately, its scope 2 emissions have been on the rise.

Specific Product Monitoring, Medium

Starbucks has taken steps to make its products more durable over time. Example:

Starbucks developed its first pod coffee machine, the “Starbucks Verismo 580”. This machine was designed to offer consumers a simple and convenient coffee experience, with easy and quick maintenance.

Unfortunately, the materials used to create the machine are not made from recycled materials and are difficult to recycle. However, the machine can be repaired at Starbucks authorized service centers, where trained technicians can diagnose and address any potential issues.

Supply Chain Waste, No information

We couldn’t find reliable information about pods coffee.

Sustainability Scorecards, High

Starbucks demonstrates its commitment to sustainable development through a range of initiatives, including ethical sourcing, developing partnerships with producers to improve sustainable farming practices, and investing in renewable energy. Additionally, Starbucks shows a certain level of transparency regarding sustainability in its pod coffee range, notably by publishing its performance in its Global Environmental and Social Impact Report (GESI).

Water Management, High

Starbucks aims to reduce its water consumption. In 2019, Starbucks launched projects in Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, Guatemala and Kenya to reduce water consumption in coffee processing by up to 80% through investments in new mills. In addition, by 2030, 50% of water withdrawals for global operations, packaging, and the agricultural supply chain should be retained or replenished.



Overall, Starbucks has made strides in addressing sustainability concerns, but there are areas where further improvements.

With a score of 3.75/5 for the criteria analyzed, Starbucks is considered a sustainable coffee pod producer, with a detailed roadmap to follow in the years ahead.

Related to other brands

Number of criteria met by each brand:

ESCP Business School Team

Research developed by five curious international ESCP Business School students who have worked together to successfully complete their consulting project. They analysed four brands in four different categories -20 brands: sneakers, pod coffee, jeans, makeup, and chocolate, according to 10 environmental criteria.