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National Restaurant Association - Starbucks’ Turner: Solving for sustainability is huge opportunity

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Starbucks’ Turner: Solving for sustainability is huge opportunity

At restaurants throughout the United States, practicing sustainability is beginning to be recognized for its efficiency and ability to help lower operating costs as well as produce environmental stability. As a result, an increased number of operators are looking for more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Starbucks Coffee Co., in particular, is one company that has taken a leadership role in practicing sustainability at its stores and helping others get involved, too.

Clarice Turner, the company’s senior vice president of U.S. business and chair of the National Restaurant Association’s sustainability committee, recently addressed the importance of being business efficient as well as environmentally conscious.

Why is practicing sustainability important for the industry?
It’s not only the right thing to do, but we know we will have greater loyalty from our customers and the people who work at our restaurants because we are tackling something relevant and important to them. Restaurants are the cornerstones of their communities. And our commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility is rooted in our mission to improving the quality of life for all we serve.

Why is it important for the industry to lead on this issue?
Solving for this issue is a huge opportunity across the value chain. We cannot wait for local or federal governments to act or make decisions. They need to have the benefit of industry leadership and expertise to help them determine what the best sustainable solutions are and what will truly make a difference.

How important is this issue to Starbucks?
You have no idea how serious my company is about sustainability. But we’ve discovered there is no silver bullet that will get it done. The regulatory environment needs to be collaborative rather than defensive. We must try to help policymakers understand that our industry is trying to solve the problem, not avoid it. It is complicated, but doable.

As chair of the NRA’s sustainability committee, can you speak to the importance of the Association’s Conserve sustainability initiative?
We are seeing significant reductions in energy, waste and water through our Conserve Sustainability Education program, an effort we launched in 2009. Conserve provides an introduction to sustainability and a roadmap to help operators with practical information and best practices.

In the United States, restaurants employ 13 million people in nearly 1 million locations. The industry's sheer size means that collectively we can have an enormously positive impact.

Above, top right: Clarice Turner

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