Starbucks, the American multinational chain of coffeehouses across the globe, has announced it will be developing a new sustainability learning and innovation lab in Costa Rica. The sustainability learning and innovation lab will be situated in Hacienda Alsacia at the company’s headquarters for research and development.
Ultimately, the lab will act as a hub for virtual and hands-on learning opportunities for Starbucks employees, researchers, students, and industry leaders to scale and innovate sustainable solutions for some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, such as agricultural economies and climate change adaptation. The integration of sustainability education for professionals within this space is crucial, as it empowers them to not only recognise but also create and effectively implement these sustainable solutions, ensuring that initiatives are not only visionary but also actionable and impactful.
What will the lab offer?
Kicking off in Autumn this year, the lab will provide the first wave of educational programming to certain Arizona State University (ASU) Starbucks employees and students. They will leverage ASU’s world-class faculty and leading educational technology to improve the student experience, including study abroad opportunities tied to existing ASU degree programmes. Such degree programmes include Sustainable Food Systems, Global Agribusiness, Sustainability, Environment and Resource Management, and many more. The Starbucks hub will be predicted to be physically open by 2026.
Why is Starbucks making this move?
Starbucks has been focusing on the sustainability of its coffee for some time. Hacienda Alsacia, the company’s first and only company-owned and operated coffee farm has been working on this for over ten years. The farm has been dedicated to research and development. They have been testing disease-resistant coffee trees, creating new coffee varieties, and sharing agricultural practices to produce higher yields and reinvent the future of coffee.
This research and development are set to continue, but the lab will enable Starbucks to expand the collaboration and capabilities required to cultivate environmental and social change beyond our favourite caffeinated drink. Starbucks’ CEO has said the development of the new sustainability learning and innovation lab will improve the company’s environmental promise to give more than we take and their farmer promise to ensure the future of coffee. They are aware they cannot do this work alone, which is why they are harnessing the power of collaboration to bring about genuine change.
How does Starbucks currently fare on the sustainability scale?
Whilst Starbucks is a massive brand, they have begun to take action on sustainability-related issues. Their mission goes beyond their partners, cafés, and customers. The company purchases 3 percent of the world’s highest quality and ethically sourced arabica coffee from over 400,000 farmers across 30 different countries.
They recognise that coffee is tied to environmental and social issues and have committed to working alongside communities to become a resource-positive business. Starbucks is working to cut its water, carbon, and waste footprints in half by 2030. They are also partnering with others to determine new ways to give more than it takes because they believe they can build an excellent company that scales for good, whilst having a positive effect on the world.
It’s an exciting time to see a big company not only prioritising sustainability but pushing the message of the importance of education to make change happen. The new sustainability learning and innovation lab will expand on the already present collaboration to tackle pressing challenges with a collective commitment to source new and sustainable approaches that affect communities across the world.