Starbucks’ opens green innovation center
Starbucks has partnered with Arizona State University to open an innovation center dedicated to testing environmental sustainability initiatives.
Scheduled to open in December 2021 on ASU’s Tempe campus, the ASU-Starbucks Center for the Future of People and the Planet in the first year will focus on:
- Greener stores: The center will develop and open-source solutions to design, build and operate buildings that minimize environmental impacts throughout their life cycle.
- Food and wellness: Alternative menu items, including plant-based offerings and protein sources, will be explored that empower customers to make the right choices and that promote environmental practices.
- Community betterment: The center will work on inspiring local partners to become “Community Champions” by offering training, support and a community development playbook to help enhance civic infrastructure and activity in their neighborhoods.
- Innovation test stores: ASU’s four campuses in Phoenix are home to nine Starbucks stores that will act as innovation labs to test strategies developed at the research center. In-store testing will include plant-based food and beverage offerings designed to reduce carbon intensity, strategies to improve recycling and circularity (including reusables) and new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Most recent innovation centers opened by retailers and QSRs have focused on in-store technologies and food innovation. Starbucks has a second innovation hub, Tryer Center at its Seattle headquarters, that opened in November 2018 to focus on new products, processes and store design. A mockup store inside Tryer Center helped develop systems for customer pick-up of mobile orders.
The eco-focused innovation hub follows Starbucks’ announced commitment in early 2020 to become “resource positive” when it comes to carbon, water and waste. By 2030, goals call for reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent, conserving or replenishing half of the water taken for coffee production or operations and halving its waste sent to landfills.
Said Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ CEO, in a statement on the new innovation center, “We constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways to give back more than we take, using our power at scale to create a better society in which we all live.”
- ASU-Starbucks Center for the Future of People and the Planet – Starbucks
- Starbucks, ASU partner on new research and rapid innovation facility – Arizona State University/Starbucks
- Starbucks Commits to a Resource-Positive Future – Starbucks
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- Is Walmart’s Store No. 8 breaking boundaries or bonds with its core customers? – RetailWire
- Will a different kind of ‘innovation hub’ open the future to food growth opportunities? – RetailWire
- What convinces retailers to innovate? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does establishing separate innovation centers focusing on sustainable solutions make sense for retailers? What do you see as the primary hurdles retailers face developing green initiatives and meeting their sustainability goals?