Starbucks goes greener by recycling muffins

The coffee chain is introducing an innovative program in Hong Kong.

By InvestorPlace Sep 5, 2012 9:51AM
A Starbucks Corp., sign is displayed outside a coffee shop in London, U.K. Chris Ratcliffe,Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Alyssa Oursler

investorplaceStarbucks (SBUX) is trying to reduce its environmental footprint in Hong Kong by testing a new recycling process that will turn old, stale baked goods and old coffee grounds into bio-plastics and laundry detergent.

The program aims to prevent nearly 5,000 tons of leftovers from being dumped into landfills, incinerated or composted.

This isn't the company's first attempt to lessen its environmental impact. Earlier this summer it debuted a greener hot-cup sleeve, called the Earthsleeve, which is said to help save about 100,000 trees.

It's also not the company's first attempt this year to try something new. It has added lots of scattered new offerings lately in an attempt to appeal to everyone.

It batted its eyelashes at the on-the-go crowd by adding vending machines and introducing its own single-serve machine. It also announced the new option of paying by smartphone.

Is the company trying to do too much to appeal to too many demographic groups?

InvestorPlace editor Jeff Reeves, in "Serving a venti cup of desperation," berated the company for its lack of focus. Assistant editor Marc Bastow, on the other hand, took the other side with "Starbucks gets creamed for growing -- and that ain't right" after shares of SBUX got hit after an earnings miss.

Still, you can't really argue with the company's strong hold on the coffee industry, despite players like Dunkin Donuts (DNKN), McDonald's (MCD) and Caribou Coffee (CBOU).

And you can't argue with the company's 32% gains since January.

As of writing this, Alyssa Oursler did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

More from InvestorPlace
Sep 5, 2012 11:22AM
Gosh they could just sell it at a lower price so it would all be sold.        Nah we'll tell everybody that were green and charge a higher price and not run an efficient business.
Sep 5, 2012 2:37PM

Part of the story begs the question; If they can be used to make plastics, just what the hell is in them to begin with??


Would it not be better if they brought them off the shelves a day or two earlier and just GAVE them to people that are hungry?    Failing that, could they not give them to farmers for animal feed?   Even the composting is better than making "plastics" out of them.



Sep 5, 2012 2:53PM

The American way is about developing, innovating, thinking outside old school boundaries... Imagine: Starbucks makes money, innovates, and is a responsible corporate citizen. You can have it all.. Profit, environmentally sounds principles, and a better life through invention. This is what made America great, folks..

DISCLAIMER: Starbucks is very liberal and i am a very conservative republican. Although i do not agree with Howard Schultz and his liberal leanings ,i still applaud his incredible business acumen and true innovative spirit. He is a legend and a true American creator.

Sep 5, 2012 2:28PM
At first, I thought the headline meant that they were taking un-eaten muffins off of customers' trays and reselling them!
Well at least they are recyling them...better than throwing them out I suppose but I agree they are way too expensive and would be sold if in fact they were affordable. Who want to spend $10.00 for a snack & coffee at starbucks? But on the other hand you should see what Dunkin donuts just throws out at the end of the night...don't they know there are food banks feeding people? When I asked why they just throw them out? I was told they are afraid someone might get sick? REALLY??? But...I won't get sick if I PAY for it? Made no sense to me...but they waste a huge amount!!
Sep 5, 2012 5:33PM
I say charge for the leftover treats at half-price about 2 hrs. before close (can't you just see some teenagers jumping on that opportunity???).  Then, if they still have stuff leftover, deliver it to the nearest homeless and/or battered womens shelter.  I know they plan to recycle it, but wouldn't it so much better to give it to someone who is truly hungry and in need of food????
Sep 5, 2012 2:46PM




Sep 5, 2012 5:58PM
Never, ever been to a Starbucks. Not on purpose at first, but about ten years ago just kept it up and refuse to support them. Might be a great company, green, maybe treat their employees well, but I support the little stand alone shops and help small business rather than corporate stockholders.
Sep 5, 2012 3:45PM

For once the heading made me thought it's recycling for resale. Yuck!

Sep 5, 2012 5:49PM
Their coffee tastes recycled, too.  I decided years ago to never buy another cup of coffee from Starbucks.
Sep 5, 2012 5:56PM
stale donuts + old coffee grounds = laundry detergent? who knew?
Sep 5, 2012 6:30PM
Starbucks has decent items, even if you do pay a premium for their product, I know at least that the cost is being sent to the right places, and not just the coffers of the shareholders.

Studying their many different tactics in more than a couple marketing classes, I think they do have a good business sense, even if they seem to be trying just about anything to appeal to people.
Sep 5, 2012 7:35PM
Yeah i asked once why they threw out the food and got the same answer , "they are afraid someone will get sick" but if u buy it for full price 5 mins before closing shop they are not afraid that you will get sick. What a waste of junk food !! Give it to the hungry, it is a shame people have to dig in the garbage to find  something to eat and this is suppose to be the worlds most powerful country or so they think.
Sep 5, 2012 7:18PM
well that was a misleading headline...
Sep 5, 2012 3:06PM
Lousy coffee overpriced bakery why even go there ....Oh I get it flaunt your money...
Sep 5, 2012 2:18PM

I am so tired of the "Go Green" crap!  The earth is not going to implode on its self if you use paper or other products from a renewable recourse such as trees!  I don't want someone else's recycled old garbage.  When I buy something, I want to be the first to have used it!  If Starbucks produces so much waste from unsold merchandise, may be the manager who allows such waste to occur should be replaced with someone that can count and oversee a proper inventory...



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