At virtually the same time, Starbucks has presented a scholarly paper on the saving of waste to a very high-powered American academic institution… and on the other side of the world, has created what might be thought an entirely unnecessary piece of disposable coffee-related equipment.
At the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society last week, Starbucks reported on the successful laboratory testing of its new bio-refinery process, which involves turning its used coffee grounds and bakery food waste into bio-plastics, laundry detergents and other everyday products.
The work is going on at the City University of Hong Kong, in which city alone Starbucks produces about 5,000 tons a year of used grounds and unconsumed bakery items, which eventually go to be incinerated, composted or dumped.
The bio-refinery process blends this waste with fungi. The result is enzymes which break down carbohydrates in the food into sugars. The result of this goes into a fermenting vat, where bacteria convert the sugars into succinic acid, which is said to be a useful component of new products such as laundry detergents, bioplastics and medicines
The technology is said to have the benefit of saving landfill, saving air pollutants from landfill, and re-using any CO2 created during the process.
Meanwhile, in Russia, Starbucks is reported to have created what might be thought a less-than-essential takeaway cup sleeve, for a curious competitive reason… that it makes any takeaway coffee look like it came from Starbucks.
The story, according to commentators on the local market, is that Starbucks has been in Russia for about five years, and sees the country as a key area for future expansion. However, Starbucks finds itself in the unusual position of entering a market which is already fairly busy with other coffee chains which have become established.
So its advertising agency, charged with getting the brand awareness and recognition while working on a tight budget, came up with a plan. It is a postcard bearing the Starbucks logo. The postcard can be folded round in a circle, and one end clips into the other, thus forming a fairly conventional takeaway cup sleeve… except that it has the Starbucks logo clearly visible.
The idea, bizarre as it may sound, is to clip them round takeaway cups bought from other chains, to give the impression that Starbucks has a greater takeaway market than it actually has.