retail news in context, analysis with attitude

In the UK, the Daily Mail reports, Starbucks is testing in 35 stores a program that is charging customers 5 pence for the single use paper cups in which they are getting their already-expensive lattes and cappuccinos.

The ecology-themed initiative also is tracking consumer response to the program, and is donating the proceeds to local environmental charities.

According to the story, “It comes as Starbucks-commissioned research found that 48% of people surveyed said they would carry a reusable cup which would help save money and reduce waste.”
KC's View:
Starbucks certainly is a lot smarter about this stuff that I am, if if it had been me, I would’ve done it in a lot more than 35 stores, and tied it specifically to Earth Day observations. Hard to get a reading on the customer reaction when they can just go to another Starbucks and not pay the fee.

It is interesting to note that Starbucks points out that it has long offered a small discount to people who bring their own cups, but that less than two percent of customers take advantage of the offer. This is another way to come at the issue.

As a frequent Starbucks customer, I don’t have a problem with this. Another nickel isn’t going to kill me, and the environmental cause is a good one.

Then again, maybe I’m just thinking about this because of a story I read this morning in the Washington Post, which starts this way:

“The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s normally close to the coldest time of year, but an extraordinary and possibly historic thaw swelled over the tip of the planet this weekend. Analyses show that the temperature warmed to the melting point as an enormous storm pumped an intense pulse of heat through the Greenland Sea.”

And, it continues: “Such extreme warm intrusions in the Arctic, once rare, are becoming more routine, research has shown. A study published last July found that since 1980, these events are becoming more frequent, longer-lasting and more intense.” One expert points out that it “happened in four years between 1980-2010, but has now occurred in four out of the last five winters.”

The story doesn’t get any more reassuring from there. (It is scary, but totally worth reading.)

I know the environmental issue is a different one than that being dealt with by the Starbucks program. But it is a reminder that the room for error may be decreasing, and that ignorance is neither a defense nor an excuse.