Super Mermaid vs Starbucks Cup Monster: Stand Launches Better Cup Campaign

April 8, 2016
Super Mermaid vs Starbucks Cup Monster

Today, Stand launches the Starbucks Better Cup Campaign to demand that the coffee giant stop destroying forests. Starbucks serves four billion disposable coffee cups each year — that’s 1.6 million trees logged for cups that are used once and thrown away. Yes, straight to the landfill. Mostly, the cups can’t be recycled. That’s a mountain of trash and Starbucks knows all those clearcut trees for their cups end up in the landfill.

We launch the better cup campaign in Seattle on April 8 with actions at Starbucks headquarters, 30 Seattle Starbucks locations, and the Emerald City ComicCon, the 80,000 person comic convention. Stand volunteers distributed a comic book introducing a new mermaid superhero that springs to life from the logo on a discarded Starbucks cup. The animated Super Mermaid confronts a Starbucks employee and destroys a coffee cup monster that threatens to “bury the City of Seattle” in coffee cups.

The green mermaid is Starbucks’ #1 icon, and the cup she’s emblazoned on (4 billion per year!) is its biggest environmental problem. In 2008 Starbucks said it would solve the problem by making cups recyclable, increasing recycled content of the cups, and serving more coffee in reusable cups. In their own words from 2008, “…we have set a goal to make 100 percent of our cups reusable or recyclable by 2015.”

The company missed every one of its internal goals, and has now given up and gone quiet on fixing the problem. Stand is going to help Starbucks recommit and live up to its promise to do the right thing for its customers and our forests.

There is no simple solution, but Starbucks has a proven record of innovation and creating solutions that can scale globally. Right now coffee cups are lined with plastic made from petroleum products. The liner must be removed before the cups can be recycled into new paper. And mostly, this is too hard and too few facilities can even do this.

Solutions already exist. There are cup liners not made from petroleum that can be recycled. Starbucks could change how the cup itself is made so it is not 90% clearcut forests. And Starbucks can do a lot more to help customers switch from disposable to reusable mugs. But Starbucks isn’t doing anything. And as a result, the rest of the coffee industry — 56 billion cups annually — follows Starbucks unsustainable ways.

We won’t let Starbucks give up. If anyone can solve this, Starbucks can. So Stand is demanding a better cup. The campaign asks Starbucks to make good on commitment for 100% recyclable cups, recommit to 25% reusable cups, commit to 100% post-consumer recycled and/or tree-free cups, and adopt and implement a policy of no impact on forests.

When one of the wealthiest companies in the world won’t put any effort into decreasing its forests and climate impact, we know they need some serious help focusing their attention on this issue. So that is what we are going to do. The world – especially our forests and climate – desperately need a better cup.


UPDATE: In 2018 Starbucks made a commitment for a #bettercup due to pressure from this campaign and activists across the world. Read more here