Earlier this month, Starbucks took a beating by environmentalists when it was reported that the coffee chain was wasting up to 6 million gallons of water daily. Just a few weeks later, the are making environmental news again, but this time for something positive they are doing.
Yesterday, TransFair USA and the Fairtrade Labelling Organiations International (FLO) announced that
Starbucks, one of the largest buyers of Fair Trade Certified coffee, will double its purchases to 40 million pounds in 2009, making the company the largest purchaser of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee in the world. Marking a new phase in their nine-year relationship with Starbucks, TransFair USA and FLO will join Conservation International as key partners in the Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ commitment to ethical sourcing.
In addition to doubling the amount of Fair Trade Coffee they purchase, Starbucks is also making a commitment to expand the work they do with the Fair Trade farmers. According to the press release
Also central to Starbucks effort to source ethically traded coffee will be an expansion of their work with Fair Trade farmers to enhance coffee quality and profitability through improved environmental and agricultural practices. To accomplish this they will leverage Starbucks Farmer Support Centers in Costa Rica and Africa, as well as current investments in programs that provide farmers access to credit.
Rob Cameron, the ceo of FLO believes that Starbucks, together with his organization, TransFair USA, and Conseravation International “can forge a model of trade for sustainable development that the coffee industry has never before seen.”
This commitment to purchasing Fair Trade Coffee coffee by Starbucks is a good thing at a good time. In this tight economy, I would expect that some individual consumers who were making it a practice to purchase fair trade goods may be forgoing those fair trade products because of the extra expense. In fact, Tree Hugger did a survey earlier this week asking its readers if they were cutting back on their fair trade purchases because of the economy. 10% of those surveyed said yes.
Out of curiosity, I just phoned my local Starbucks. The girl who answered the phone told me that they offer a Fair Trade Coffee every day, and it is not more expensive than their other coffee options. That’s good news, too.
Image taken from TransfairUSA.org
So what do you think of this announcement? Will it make any difference in whether you walk though the front doors of a Starbucks any time soon?