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Starbucks to open sustainability lab

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Starbucks is partnering with ASU on a new sustainability lab.

Starbucks is significantly increasing its commitment to sustainability – in partnership with Arizona State University.

The coffee giant plans to develop a new sustainability learning and innovation lab at Hacienda Alsacia, the company’s global agronomy headquarters for research and development located in Costa Rica. The lab will serve as a hub for hands-on and virtual learning opportunities for Starbucks employees, students, researchers and industry leaders to develop and scale sustainable solutions for issues including climate adaption and agricultural economics.  

Starting in fall 2023, the lab will offer the first wave of educational programming to select Arizona State University (ASU) students and Starbucks employees. The first wave will leverage ASU’s educational technology and faculty to offer an expanded student experience, including study abroad opportunities tied to existing sustainability-related ASU degree programs. The Starbucks lab is expected to physically open within the next three years. 

Hacienda Alsacia, the company’s first and only company-owned and operated coffee farm, is dedicated exclusively to research and development. Starbucks uses the facility to create new coffee varieties, test disease-resistant coffee trees, and develop and share sustainable agricultural practices.

“This is an opportunity for us to advance Starbucks environmental promise to give more than we take and our farmer promise to ensure the future of coffee for all,” said Laxman Narasimhan, Starbucks CEO. “We know we cannot do this important work alone, and the possibilities in front of us to scale solutions, partner with thought leaders and serve as a global hub for innovation are limitless."

Starbucks works toward sustainable, educational goals

Starbucks has an existing commitment to to become a resource-positive company, including cutting its carbon, water and waste footprints in half by 2030. Other sustainable initiatives from Starbucks include its Greener Stores Framework, a benchmark designed to accelerate the development of lower-impact stores.

These locations are committed to significantly reducing energy use, water usage and landfill waste. To date, these stores have reduced energy consumption by 30% compared with the company’s prior store designs.

Starbucks currently operates more than 2,300 sustainably-designed stores in the U.S. and Canada. The coffee giant plans to extend the model outside of North America to meet its goal of building and retrofitting 10,000 Greener Stores globally by 2025.

In addition, Starbucks and ASU have worked together to build educational programming since first partnering in 2014 to develop the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which has graduated more than 10,000 Starbucks employees.

Since then, the Starbucks-ASU partnership has expanded to include the Pathway to Admission, Starbucks Global Academy and a Sustainability Fellowship Program.

“This is an exciting new chapter in our nearly decade-long partnership with Starbucks,’’ said Arizona State University president Michael Crow. “The new sustainability learning and innovation lab will expand on our collaboration together, working closely to tackle critical challenges with a collective commitment to seek new and sustainable approaches that impact global communities.” 

Headquartered in Seattle, Starbucks Corp. operates over 35,000 stores worldwide.

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