Weeklong protest outside Starbucks Headquarters calls on coffee giant to create a recyclable cup

November 27, 2017

Bellingham-based group Stand.earth launched the Better Cup campaign calling on Starbucks to live up to its 2008 promise to make a 100% recyclable paper cup.

This week, Bellingham-based environmental group Stand.earth is holding a 5-day protest outside Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle as part of its Better Cup campaign highlighting the coffee giant’s failed 2008 promise to make a 100% recyclable paper cup. 

“Nine years ago, Starbucks made a promise to give us a 100% recyclable cup. But to this day, they’ve left us with nothing but broken promises,” said Jim Ace, Corporate Campaigner at Stand.earth and the lead organizer of the protest. “Starbucks’ own leadership has said their unrecyclable cup is their biggest environmental liability. So why does Starbucks continue to kill more than a million trees each year to make their paper cup — just so customers can use it once and throw it away?”

WHEN: Monday morning, November 27, through Friday afternoon, December 1. Follow along on the Stand.earth Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO & VIDEO: From 7-9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 29, the Starbucks Cup Monster will join a group of activists as they hand out free Starbucks coffee in prototype recyclable cups to employees as they arrive at work. 

From 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 29, youth climate justice ambassadors with Plant for the Planet will host Climate Caroling at the Starbucks Headquarters, including the song “All I Want for Christmas is a Better Cup.”

And from 5-9 p.m. on Thursday, November 30, the Starbucks Cup Monster will join youth climate justice ambassadors with Plant for the Planet as they visit the Seattle Sounders game to educate fans about the Better Cup campaign.

WHERE: Starbucks Headquarters, 2401 Utah Ave S, Seattle

WHAT: Activists plan to erect a cup wall made of 8,000 used Starbucks paper cups, which highlights the astounding number of Starbucks cups worldwide used once and thrown in the trash— 4+ billion cups per year, or 8,000+ cups each minute.

The protest will also include a visit from the popular Starbucks Cup Monster, “Grounds,” a 12+ foot tall monster made of more than 1,000 used Starbucks cups. The Cup Monster has made several Seattle appearances in recent months, including the Starbucks shareholder meeting in March, the Seafair Festival in July (which is sponsored by Starbucks) and the Geekwire Summit in October (where CEO Kevin Johnson took the stage).

Each day, activists will send creative and catchy messages to Starbucks employees and executives with information about the Better Cup campaign, including a message from the Starbucks Cup Monster himself. Listen below: 

Each evening as the sun goes down, activists will create a cup luminaria and shine messages onto the Starbucks building, highlighting the number of trees killed each year for Starbucks to makes its single-use paper cups. 

Starbucks customers assume their paper cups are recyclable, but this is not true in most cases.

Stand.earth’s 2017 report, “Trashed: The Secret of the Starbucks Cup”, explains how Starbucks cups cannot be processed in most recycling facilities because of their plastic lining. Instead, most of the 4+ billion cups Starbucks serves annually end up in landfills. Starbucks cups are accepted for recycling in some major cities — including Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. — but the percentage of cups that successfully make it through the entire recycling process remains unclear.

In October 2017, a shareholder resolution was filed by As You Sow, a nonprofit foundation that promotes corporate social responsibility, asking Starbucks to recommit to its 2008 goals to make a recyclable paper cup and increase the use of reusable mugs.

For more information, visit www.stand.earth/campaigns/starbucks-bettercup. Sign the petition to send a letter to CEO Kevin Johnson at www.stand.earth/bettercup-petition.


CONTACT: Virginia Cleaveland, virginia@stand.earth, 510-858-9902