How many people does it take to design a better paper cup? For Starbucks, the answer is likely thousands. Fast Company has the extended saga of the coffee giant's quest to design and feature a completely recyclable cup.
To that end, Starbucks has held a series of Cup Summits, inviting coffee competitors and searching for answers to the waste created by disposable cups. The last of these was on (the PR-friendly) Earth Day in April, with 2012 the stated goal for 100% recyclable cups.
While it's admirable that Starbucks isn't rushing into an environmental package design that it may end up needing to prematurely abandon (see Sun Chips for an example of this), it's hard to accept that designing a recyclable cup takes this long to achieve.
A company with major buying power has the ability to set the market (see Wal-Mart's plan to work directly with farmers to increase the amount of local produce it sells). You're telling me, Starbucks, that if you created a website asking inventors to solve this problem, we couldn't have a crowd-sourced solution by the end of the year?
It's nice to hear that sustainability is part of the goal of major corporations. However, there needs to be a sense of urgency and action attached to the initiative. Because right now it's hard not to see this cup project as half-empty.
[Image via Flickr: Smuk Luka]