Starbucks “Via”

So, Starbucks has created “Via” which is their new instant coffee.  It’s supposed to taste exactly like fresh brewed coffee. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t comment on the taste, but I will say that I’m not certain it fits in line with Starbucks’ effort to reduce waste. To me, it seems like more packaging and a system based nearly entirely around “single use” packaging.  They’re selling it in 3 use packages and 12 use packages.

http://starbucks.tekgroup.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=270

The even have a picture of a paper cup on the box, and not a reuseable mug. People say all the time that they’re immune to advertising, well… why am I writing about “Via” then?  If you want people to start using travel mugs, and ceramic mugs, why is there a paper mug on the package?

I simply don’t see how “Via” is in line with their stated goals to recycle.  They say that they want to have the “option” to recycle in 100% of the stores where they manage the waste management solution. “http://www.starbucks.com/sharedplanet/environmentalInternal.aspx?story=recycling

Well, I’d like to go on record as saying I don’t think that’s good enough. I see lots of under utilized blue (recycling) boxes as I go about my day, and lots of garbage in recycling bins, and lots of recycling in garbage bins.  How about an overall waste reduction by X percent, and an overall increase in recycling by X %?  And by “waste reduction” I don’t mean necessarily moving the kg of waste generation from 1 column over to another column marked “recycling”, I mean an actual reduction in waste generated and an actual, tangible increase in materials recycled.

To me, while this product may or may not taste like fresh brewed, it runs counter to a larger issue, a declared goal of Starbucks, to have a better, happier planet.

That’s my 2 cents.

I want to hear yours.  Please, seriously.  I think there’s a larger issue to discuss here.

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8 Comments »

  1. cat said

    Right on! Thanks for bringing this up. I can’t believe there isn’t a big outrage over the Via packaging. I’m working on a post about it for AOL GreenDaily. Bottom line is that Starbucks is incredibly irresponsible when it comes to waste management and recycling!

    • Hi, thanks for the positive feedback!! I agree with you and I’m glad that there’s similar sentiment out there. I feel that they’re trying to “greenwash” us by promoting their goals in the media and online, but not setting particularly difficult ones, and not really working very hard to get there. I have another couple of articles on Starbucks (entitled “Earth Day disconnect”), I think it’s a shame how SLOW they’re working towards getting people to use ceramic mugs in their coffee shops. How hard is it for the baristas to say, “Is that for here or to go?”

    • Jenny said

      Do you know if you can recycle the aluminum packets each serving of Via coffee comes in? (Obviously you can recycle the cardboard boxes themselves.)

      • My email response to Jenny:

        Hi Jenny,

        Re: https://freshstartrecycling.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/starbucks-via/

        Personally I’m unaware of any way to recycle the Via packets for their instant coffee. I don’t know where you live, but where I live in Vancouver there’s a Recycling Hotline, 604-Recycle (604-732-9253). They may be able to offer some advice. I’ve also cc’d Louise at Recycling Alternative. They’re quite pro-active when it comes to “zero waste”, and perhaps she has some solutions for you.

        Thank-you for making a comment on our blog post; I really want there to be a solution. Starbucks really seems to be saying one thing with their http://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/environment/recycling environmental policy, but physically moving in an opposite direction. Until the baristas can utter those 7 little words, “Is that for here or to go?”, I don’t think I’ll believe everything they say.

        Regards,
        Thomas.

  2. I am concerned about Starbuck’s strong-arm tactics and the scripted “conversations” used on customers to sell the new product. They show a rather sad view of the customer (as well as other people). I strongly recommend the following blog’s post: http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/starbucks/

  3. A great read, Thank-you!!

  4. Clive said

    It gets worse. The twin pack of 12 single serve sachets comes in a box with an internal partition that makes it at least 25% bigger than is needed to hold the other packs. So much for their “Shared Planet” environmental ideals.

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