Pro Environment

Starbucks urged to provide plant-based milks free of charge


ProVeg International has urged Starbucks to drop their surcharge on plant-based milks in order to help them achieve their new climate targets. The call comes after Starbucks announced ambitious new goals for reducing environmental impact. By 2030, the coffee chain is targetting 50% reductions in carbon emissions, water withdrawal and waste sent to landfill.

Dairy products are the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions across Starbucks’ operations and supply chain, according to their new sustainability assessment. Although soy milk is sometimes offered for free, if customers choose other plant-based milks, such as oat, almond or coconut instead of cow’s milk, they are typically subject to an additional charge, prompting ProVeg to call for Starbucks’ pricing to reflect its climate ambitions.

Plant milk is the sustainable alternative

Sebastian Joy, CEO of ProVeg International, said: “Now we know that dairy products are Starbucks’ primary climate culprit, we encourage the chain to follow in the footsteps of some of its competitors and drop the surcharge on plant-based milks. The same goes for other major coffee chains still charging extra for sustainable alternatives to cow’s milk.”

Joy continued, “We were delighted to hear Starbucks’ ambitious environmental targets, which we’re sure can be achieved if plant-based milk is placed at the heart of the solution. Instead of charging customers for being climate-conscious, let’s incentivize them, starting by making the more sustainable alternative – plant milks – free of charge.”

The task ahead of Starbucks cannot be underestimated. In 2018, Starbucks was responsible for emitting 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses, using 1 billion cubic meters of water and dumping 868 metric kilotons — more than twice the weight of the Empire State Building — of coffee cups and other waste.

Demand for plant milk continues to grow

Encouragingly, however, Starbucks’ climate targets have been set at a time when demand for plant-based products continues to skyrocket – particularly in the UK. Research released last year by Mintel shows that nearly 25% of Britons are now drinking plant-based milks, up from 18% in 2018, while close to 400,000 people have signed up for this year’s Veganuary.

ProVeg International wrote to the President of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa to call for plant milks to be made free across the region. ProVeg International works closely with retailers, caterers and the food service industry to help them to become more plant-based.

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