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Starbucks: A Better Sustainability Model
Mitchell Fang
Brandman University

Introduction
This paper analyzes how the sustainability strategy of Starbucks is better than the sustainability strategy of Walmart. Sustainability partly means to have “a positive impact on people and planet” while “delivering profitable growth too” as stated by Fisk (2011). Starbucks is better in its approach to sustainability in three ways: its use of partnership and certification, more initiative in its sustainability strategy, better profit because of its investment in its employees.

Analysis
Starbucks and Walmart each have a comprehensive plan for sustainability. Analyzing both Starbucks and Walmarts approach to sustainability, I believe Starbucks’ approach to sustainability is better than Walmarts’ approach in part to three factors. Firstly, Starbucks makes more use of partnership and obtaining certification from 3rd party organizations. Secondly, Starbucks takes more initiative in its sustainability policy than Walmart. Lastly, Starbucks is in better position to profit because invests more in its employees to provide better customer service.

Use of Partnership and Obtaining Certifications
Starbucks use of partnerships and obtaining certifications is one reason their sustainability strategy is better than Walmarts. Starbucks has collaborated with Conservation International to develop Starbucks’ ethical sourcing guideline (Global Responsibility Report Goals & Progress, 2012). Also, Starbucks has been working with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to build LEED® certified stores. While Walmart does have partnerships and does use third party certifications, Walmarts’ partners and third party certifications lack the reliability and credibility in comparison to Starbucks’ partners and third party certifications. As Senge, Smith, Kruschwitz, Laur, Schley (2008) state, “Traditionally, leading activist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been far more likely to attack than work with huge global corporations.” A third party organization most likely has more stringent guidelines than a company’s own guideline. It takes a bit of courage to allow a third party to delegate how Starbucks will fulfill their responsibility to the planet in addition to fulfilling their obligation to customers and shareholders. The fact that Starbucks can reach out, work with, and conform to Conservation International and USGBC standards makes them preferable model than Walmart’s model.

Taking Initiative
The Starbucks’ model takes more initiative in its approach to sustainability than Walmart’s model. By taking an initiative, Starbucks doesn’t rest on its laurels. Starbucks rejects “many of the conventions and conveniences of business that created past success” Fisk (2011). Instead, Starbucks looks to future by “taking new perspective, finding new solutions, and even finding new measure of performance” Fisk (2011). By having a different and new perspective, Starbucks has some firsts in the industry in regards to sustainability and its employees. For example, in 2008 Starbucks says it launched the first hot beverage paper cup with 10% post-consumer recycled fiber (Recycling & Reducing Waste, 2012). Even more striking, according to Hoover’s Inc (2012), in 1991 Starbucks was the nation’s first privately owned company to offer stock options to all employees. To be the first in using a hot beverage paper cup with 10% recycled fiber is definitely taking a new perspective on sustainability and raises the bar for Starbucks and its competitors. An example of new ways to measure performance, social responsibility reports introduced by Starbucks started in 2001 while Walmart did not have some form of social responsibility reports until 2005 (Global Responsibility Report Goals & Progress, 2012; Global Responsibility Report, 2012).

More Profit by Better Customer Service
Starbucks is better positioned to grow their...
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