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Starbucks accused of wasting millions of litres of water

October 15, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Starbucks, which prides itself on its green credentials, has been heavily criticised by environmentalists and customers alike for wasting 1.63 million litres of water each day in its UK outlets, the amount equivalent to that consumed by an average size town such as Matlock in Derbyshire.

If you want a more emotive comparison, the 23.4 million litres wasted worldwide in Starbucks outlets would be enough to satisfy the needs of the 2 million Namibians suffering drought conditions at the moment.

The reason behind this wastage seems to be a dubious health and safety regulation, designed to minimise the risk of bacteria building up in taps at the coffee shops. Staff are not allowed to turn off the taps in the sinks used to wash utensils, on the grounds that this would allow bacteria to breed in them.

Jacob Tompkins of Water Wise, an independent agency, has slammed the practice saying that the likelihood of a build-up of bacteria is remote if Starbucks are carrying out their cleaning procedures efficiently. Starbucks has defended the regime saying that they need to balance water conservation with customer safety.

There is no doubt, however, that the revelations will come as a great embarrassment to the company which trumpets its green credentials, stating in its corporate social responsibility report that it has “established high standards for environmental responsibility”.

Starbucks are no strangers to controversy, however, and managed to bounce back after the Guardian reported in 2006 that the company was using its corporate weight to stop Ethiopian farmers copyrighting their coffee beans. It will be interesting to see what steps the company takes to limit the damage done by this most recent embarrassment.

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One response to “Starbucks accused of wasting millions of litres of water”

  1. Leonie B says:

    OMG. That is really bad. There has to be another way to keep the place clean….

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