When you're out on the road, sometimes you have to settle for crappy coffee. Avoiding gas station coffee is of utmost importance, but that often leaves you with Starbucks. I always leave Starbucks thinking the same thing: They like to market themselves as sustainable, but are missing out on quite an opportunity.
As a trash dude, I'm always looking at waste streams and how an establishment is designed to handle them. Starbucks (and any coffee shop for that matter) has a severely simple one. On the back end, there's coffee grinds and cardboard. I saw that Starbucks has had the Grounds for Your Garden campaign since 1995...none of the employees had any idea what this was. Smart for Starbucks though, as it saves them on waste hauling fees and greens them up in the consumer's eyes.
Just by taking a peek in their trash cans, their waste consists of plastic and glass bottles, and plastic lids for the coffee cup. Otherwise, it's all paper, cardboard and food scraps...sound compostable? I was surprised there wasn't a recycling can for their bottles...maybe Chicago didn't have that service available? I doubt it. A coffee shop is an opportunity that's just screaming zero waste.
Anyway, I'm waiting for the day that Starbucks starts composting at more of their stores. As they're a gigantic company, they definitely have stores in areas where commercial composting is available. I just called a few spots in San Francisco for fun, and they all proudly compost...but it's mandatory there anyway.
What I'm getting at is that they're in a position both geographically and financially to initiate composting programs at more of their stores and make a huge impact. Composting needs to be the next hip thing, and Starbucks is in the driver's seat. In nearly every case, composting services are a cheaper per ton hauling rate, and it does wonders for your public relations.
To all of the small coffee shops out there currently composting and giving away your coffee grinds to the locals for their efforts, I salute you. As for Starbucks, I commend your efforts as they're better than any other large coffee chain I can think of...but I hope to see more. Starbucks isn't alone here, but for some reason I am always hit square in the face with coffee shops and their compostability. Coffee shops: what do you need to make composting happen?