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What if instead of cutting down millions of trees each year, you didn’t cut down any? What if you didn’t need to worry about recycling, because you just extended the natural cycle? What if the coffee cup became more than just a regular cup of Java, it became a status symbol? Watch the video for the full experience…then come back and read on for more details…

This proposal goes well beyond just an alternative material for the coffee cup, it provides Starbucks with a whole new approach to the way the coffee drinker engages with their daily fix, as well as a comprehensive plan for Starbucks to make the most of it – design, scaling up, marketing and communications. I’m an Australian living in the Solomon Islands, a small but beautiful poor nation in the Pacific. One day, after wandering around the jungle, I noticed that a particular palm leaf looked really robust, strong and fibrous. Often coming up with wacky ideas, and in this case, with the idea of development and the environment in mind, I thought immediately, how could this substance be used as a resource? My research led me to India, where the areca leaf is used to make bowls and plates…but I thought that you could aim bigger, much bigger. People definitely use disposable plates for picnics. But they use disposable coffee cups a whole lot more. The Beta Cup competition is the perfect forum for my vision, and Starbucks is the ideal organization to help bring this vision into a reality. So please watch the short video, and then read on below for more details…

1. So what is my alternative to the paper coffee cup? It’s true that there are plenty of alternatives to the disposable paper cup, and no doubt many of them will be mentioned in this competition, but what Starbucks has made clear, is that the re-usable, like the mug, cup hasn’t taken off. So we’re now challenged to come up with an entirely different approach… but let’s face it, as much as we’d love some days to have our coffee connected to us with an intravenous drip, the cup is here to stay… In my wanderings in the jungles, I started to have some thoughts: • If a material can be used to make the coffee cup, which relies on a tree continuing to live, rather than chopping it down, then you’re ahead from the start. It’s already that much more carbon neutral. If it already exists in large plantations, and doesn’t involve mass land clearing to get production up and running, then we’re ahead again.

If it doesn’t require large amounts of processing, then it is also saving on other resources that would otherwise go into manufacturing the paper cup.

‘Instead of the coffee cup being a source of carbon consumption, it can be a source of carbon conservation.’ With this in mind, we can adopt a whole new perspective on re-use and recycling. If there was a natural by-product, that was going to head straight back into the ground after it fell off the tree, then why don’t we just extend the cycle, and give the product an extra use, before it makes it’s way back into the ground. This new type of input for a coffee cup deserves a new type of terminology: ‘the neutral resource’. 2. So what’s the material? The areca leaf is a by-product of the areca palm tree, growing widely across the Asian and Pacific tropical zones. It’s main product is the fruit, used for traditional purposes, as a local version of their coffee- it helps to kick start their day, and like the hot brew we enjoy with our friends, it’s a part of their social ritual. As the palm grows, it’s leaves drop off and fall to the ground. The part of the leaf that was attached to the trunk is crucial and it has incredibly attractive properties: robust heatproof microwave proof waterproof for up to 6 hours (much longer than you’d hope coffee would be in there!) chemical free biodegradable and compostable naturally grippy visually intriguing, with a beautiful texture and composition

Where I’m living in the Solomon Islands, this leaf is everywhere- but it’s not being used for any purpose at all, and I see that as an opportunity that needs to be capitalised. In India, where the largest plantations are found, the unique features of the cup have been identified already, and they’re taking starting to take advantage of it. Right now, only bowls and plates have been marketed from the substance, and due to a lack of adequate research and development, and perhaps a lack of opportunity from a company that has the right motivations, we haven’t yet seen the cup hit the market… 3. So how will it reduce waste? Instead of chopping down millions of trees, there is a pretty good alternative: zero trees would be chopped down. In fact, it would preserve existing tree plantations and could potentially lead to further planting. Instead of pumping in mega litres of water to break down wood down into pulp, the material is already in a usable form, just requiring heat pressing and cutting to shape. Instead of piles of used cups mounting up in landfills, the last phase of the life of the cup mimics the natural phase that the leaf would have gone through- natural decomposition into the land. Goodbye awkward sleeve…. Since it is able to insulate heat, the innovative ‘sleeve’ used by Starbucks would no longer be needed. That cost item is struck through.

The weight of the cup is about equivalent to the existing weight of the paper cup and sleeve, so weightrelated transportation costs are unlikely to be increased by the use of the material. Then there’s the time and effort spent by Starbucks negotiating with the recycling companies that can now be spent elsewhere- because the cup you’re using is already on it’s second cycle. 4. Let’s get practical – are there resources in place to make it happen at the Starbucks scale? There’s no point in pursuing an idea if it can’t be scalable to the needs of Starbucks. So let’s do the math…. • We need to hit a total of around 2.3 billion cups per year to meet Starbucks’ US demand for cups. Let’s assume that the typical areca nut leaf can produce two grande coffee cups. Each tree produces 10 leaves per year, so that means 20 coffee cups per tree. Now, one hectare contains 1,500 trees. Meaning that one hectare produces 30,000 coffee cups per year. India alone currently has 290,000 hectares of plantations, or the equivalent of 8.7 billion coffee cups. That is already more than four times the amount required to produce the coffee cups to supply the US.

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There’s also plenty of room for expansion. The rest of Asia combined can currently produce almost 5 billion further coffee cups per year. The Pacific also has the climate to harness its resources to produce even more, creating valuable export markets that this poor part of the world is craving. How much is it going to cost? The best method for estimating is to look at the costs of producing the plates and bowls today. Beyond that, it’ll have to be some professional bean counters (not coffee ones!) who really do the scrutinising. The Indian not-for-profit, Dhiiriti, who helps farmers establish areca leaf processing units, also generously publishes all of it’s financial data, so I have looked at their data as a basis for the following estimates. Here we go then…. • Let’s say one leaf produces two grande coffee cups. That’s the same output as the 10 inch plate Dhiiriti produces. They’ve costed the raw material at 0.25 Indian rupees per piece, so that’s USD 0.0053 per cup. Labor sets you back a huge 0.19 rupee per cup, or USD 0.0040. Lastly, energy, in their case, gas, used to work the heat press, costs 0.08 rupee per piece, so that makes USD .0017.

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Add that all up and you get an almost even penny (USD 0.011) per coffee cup for basic variable costs. Not a bad start. 5. A pilot production programme So what about infrastructure? In the existing plantations, transport infrastructure and markets already exist to support the other uses of the areca palm plantations. I say, focus initially on Indian suppliers in the south of the country, capitalizing on their scale, transport

networks, exploding economy, high levels of education, work ethic and capacity to innovate. Bangalore, the heartland of Indian entrepreneurialism and the capital of the plantation-dense region of Karnakata, is a natural base from which to build up capacity for manufacturing and operations. In this region alone, there is enough to supply all of Starbucks USA’s annual needs. The third Cup Summit would be held in Bangalore, India. Bangalore would be an ideal location to bring together cup manufacturers, areca leaf manufacturers, inventors, entrepreneurs and supply chain representatives to create that burst of creative energy on the project. A combination of existing technologies and innovative approaches will form the basis of the first phase of research and development. Decades of refining paper cup-manufacturing technology can be combined with the growing levels of expertise areca leaf manufacturers are gaining in manipulating the leaves into the right shapes. Structurally, the optimal form of the cup would be similar to the existing two piece cups, attached through one of the growing numbers of biodegradable glues available on the market, to ensure full biodegradability. A one piece version of the cup has not yet shown to be structurally ideal. The coffee cup lid would also be consistent with the principles of the cup, using the emerging biodegradable plastic, PLA, like the corn starch-based product offered by Vegware. In the event that further waterproofing is sought, new forms of biofilm (like that used by PLAnet) could enhance this feature, without compromising biodegradability. There’s more work to be done, that’s for sure, but we’re off to a very strong start… ….So how does it fit in with the Starbucks experience? 6. Give the customer what it wants and give them status for it… According to Starbucks’ own research in their Joint Task Force with the Alliance for Environmental Innovation, the customers already want a cup that is: environmentally friendly - uses natural colors - is textural, stylish, and distinctive The plain paper cup just isn’t good enough for the customer. This new cup ticks all of those boxes, but then it goes further… Give the people some status! People from the age of 18 to 50 love status symbols. They’ve always been important, but nowadays, it’s essential- whether it conveys your success, your interests, or your social concerns, status is here to stay. There are recycled cups on the market already, there are biodegradable and compostable cups on the market already, but they all try to imitate the paper cup. Let’s celebrate the differences of this new cup! Moreover, why don’t we let the customer show the world that it’s celebrating the difference of this new cup? The distinctive look and feel of the new cup is a perfect way to communicate this message. For the customers who don’t need to show off to the world (and we think there might be some out there), the cup can be a reminder of the exotic origins of the coffee they’re drinking. It takes them away from the mundane, and takes them on an adventure to a distant place. Ethical sourcing The public should already be asking the question, and Starbucks should be ready to answer.

“If so much effort is going into ethically sourced coffee isn’t it about time that Starbucks starts to ethically source coffee cups?” If people want status for purchasing ethically sourced coffee, they have to tell it to people. If people want status for purchasing ethically purchased coffee cups, they just need to drink from this cup...showing is far more effective than telling… 7. How can we convert more customers into believers? Many of the customers will already be convinced by the exoticism and the appealing visual characteristics of the cup, others may be convinced by it’s robust, heatproof qualities, and naturally grippy texture. We hope that many will be convinced by it’s environmental and ethical benefits too… But some may need some coaxing, so here are some more ideas….. ‘to go friendly please’ Starbucks is famous for it’s ordering jargon, and the customer is proud to communicate their order to their local barista, or to a barista in a far flung airport on the other side of the country, knowing that they’ll get the order right. So let’s add one simple word to that ritual. “I’ll have a grande skinny double latte, to go friendly”. Customers don’t love changing routines, but if they’re learning just one new word in the Starbucks language, they’ll take it on proudly as part of their order. • Campaign suggestion: Grumpy person walks into the local Starbucks, “I’ll have a triple shot venti latte to go please”, frowning and tired. The barista asks, with a big bright smile “Would that be to go friendly?” Grumpy customer gruffly responds, “Huh? What? Why?” The barista explains the reasons, and when the coffee is delivered in the exotic new cup, Grumpy man takes a sip, and starts chatting with the barista, visibly changing moods, and leaves with a smile on his face. Voiceover announces: “It’s time to go friendly, now widely available at Starbucks with your morning frown.” Or something like that…but written by a real adperson!


Freebees The My Starbucks Rewards Programme will offer a ‘green card’ to entice users over to the ‘go friendly’ option, offering a free coffee after 10 ‘go friendly’ purchases instead of 15 with the paper cup. That’s equivalent to the offer of a 10% discount to mug users. Making it fairer The producers of the areca leaf are from countries less privileged than the US, and customers should be made aware of this. Year round, but with a focus on the holidays, the Starbucks Gift Card will include the option to support community level growers (such as those through the excellent not-for-profit dhiiriti.org) or sponsor-a-child programmes in areas where the leaf is produced. Lending a hand On achieving certain levels of conversion to the ‘go friendly’ option, Starbucks will contribute to kiva.org or similar microfinance groups to make loans to support coffee growers and leaf producers. The second life For the urban gardeners and suburban green thumbs, the continued campaigns to compost will be enhanced. The cup can be promoted along with the Grounds for your Garden Campaign, and in-store pilot recycling initiatives. It is the ideal container for nursery sized plants, and instead of transplanting, you can just plant the cup in the ground, and the material will biodegrade away as the plant grows in size.




Time to walk away with a few key messages That’s enough rambling for now, so if you made it this far, walk away with a couple of these expressions

in your mind: “A source of carbon conservation, not carbon consumption” “Recycle? What if you never disrupted the cycle in the first place?” “You demanded ethically sourced coffee, now it’s time to demand an ethically sourced cup” “Instead of cutting down millions of trees, how about we cut down none?” “That regular cup of joe just became exotic java again” “I’ll have it to go friendly please”

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