Home / Environment / In Pictures Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Starbucks wastes 23 mil litres of water each day
Adjust font size:

The American coffee shop chain Starbucks has been accused of wasting more than 23 million litres of water each day because staff are told to leave taps running non-stop.

A Starbucks executive revealed running the tap non-stop stopped breeding in the taps. [Agencies]

A Starbucks executive revealed running the tap non-stop stopped breeding in the taps. [Agencies]  

The bizarre policy, which is aimed at preventing germs developing in the taps in its 10,000 stores worldwide, has outraged environmental groups.

Every Starbucks branch has a cold tap behind the counter providing water for a sink called a "dipper well" used for washing spoons and utensils and the staff are banned from turning the water off under "health and safety rules", an investigation claims.

In a letter to a customer who complained about the waste, a Starbucks executive revealed that a constant flow stops breeding in the taps.

It means that 23.4 million litres of water - enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool every 83 minutes or sustain the population of drought-hit Namibia - is wasted every day.

In the UK alone, where there are 698 branches open for 13 hours a day, it counts for around 1.63 million litres of water wasted.

It raises questions about the Seattle-based company's much-hyped environmental credentials and will embarrass its legion of celebrity patrons.

Water firms say the policy harms the environment, while hygiene experts dismissed the health and safety-motivated policy as "nonsense" and "bonkers".

A spokesman for UK Water, which represents water companies, said it was "wasteful and unnecessary".

"There is absolutely no need to keep taps running," he said.

Peter Robinson, of Waste Watch, the environmental charity, said: "Leaving taps running all day is a shocking waste of precious water. And to claim you are doing it for health and safety reasons is bonkers.

"Tap water comes from rivers and groundwater and wasting it can cause great harm to the environment and wildlife. Big companies should set an example."

Jacob Tompkins, of Water Wise, said that provided the firm was undertaking all the usual cleaning processes, such a step was unnecessary.

"The chance of a build-up in the spout is extremely remote," he said. "And if there is one, they're not cleaning the tap properly."

A spokesman for Starbucks said the company's water usage adhered to the World Health Organization, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the European Union directives.

She said: "The dipper well system currently in use ensures that we meet or exceed our own and local health standards.

"Dipper wells use a stream of continuous cold fresh-running water to rinse away food residue, help keep utensils clean and prevent bacterial growth."

However, she added: "We recognise the opportunity exists to reduce our total water usage. Starbucks' challenge is to balance water conservation with the need for customer safety."

(China Daily via Agencies October 7, 2008)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name

China Archives
Related >>
- Starbucks plans to expand
- Starbucks have bottled coffees to go
- Fresh brew at Starbucks site in Forbidden City
- Starbucks Must Leave Forbidden City
- Starbucks to Eliminate Trans Fats in China
Most Viewed >>
- Tibet moving on climate change threat
- Supplies sent to Tibetan villages
- Starbucks wastes 23 mil litres of water each day
- Broader provincial environment checks on table
- One in four mammals risks extinction
Air Quality 
Cities Major Pollutant Air Quality Level
Beijing particulate matter II
Shanghai particulate matter II
Guangzhou particulate matter I
Chongqing particulate matter II
Xi'an particulate matter II
NGO Events Calendar Tips
- Environmental English Training (EET) class
- Hand in hand to protect endangered animals and plants
- Changchun, Mini-marathon Aimed at Protecting Siberian Tiger
- Water Walk by Nature University
- Green Earth Documentary Salon
Sichuan Earthquake

An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale jolted Sichuan Province at 2:28 PM on May 12.

Panda Facts
A record 28 panda cubs born via artificial insemination have survived in 2006.
South China Karst
Rich and unique karst landforms located in south China display exceptional natural beauty.
Saving the Tibetan Antelopes
The rare animals survive in the harsh natural environment of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Laws & Regulations
- Forestry Law of the People's Republic of China
- Meteorology Law of the People's Republic of China
- Fire Control Law of the People's Republic of China
- Law on Protecting Against and Mitigating Earthquake Disasters
- Law of the People's Republic of China on Conserving Energy
State Environmental Protection Administration
Ministry of Water Resources
Ministry of Land and Resources
China Environmental Industry Network
Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base