A series of short interviews with key speakers slated for SB’18 Vancouver. All speakers are asked six sustainability questions:
1. What is the most exciting thing you’re working on now?
We’re spearheading a number of coalitions and have been so excited by the response. The newest is the NextGen Cup Challenge, but we are also involved with the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, and the 100K Opportunities initiative. All these initiatives are accelerating change at a pace that would have been unthinkable a few years ago, this is due mostly to increased industry interest and the recognition that we can get further and faster when we all work together.
2. What will you be talking about at SB’18 Vancouver?
I’ll be talking about redesigning what it means to be a green retailer, specifically I’ll be sharing our Greener Retail agenda: covering everything from Cups, Stores, and Renewable Energy to Workforce education on sustainability. I’ll be sharing our path to purpose driven innovation. But I’m also there to learn about all the latest and greatest ideas from others—I always leave a SB convening inspired and energized to do more.
3. What has been your proudest moment in Sustainability?
I have the absolute privilege of having many sustainability milestones to choose from – but hitting 1500 LEED stores in March is a big milestone for us. We are now in all 50 states and 20 countries around the world with beautiful, sustainably designed and operated stores, including a state of the art Starbucks Roastery and Reserve in both Seattle and Shanghai. The vision for this began years ago (thank you Tony Gale and Ben Packard!) and we feel responsible to keep innovating and expanding this effort. I am really proud to work with our teams around the world – Seattle, London, Amsterdam, Shanghai etc that have sustainable design and LEED based construction as an ethos and a vision for our brand and business. They are always pushing boundaries and coming up with amazing ideas to integrate sustainability into our store design, furniture, equipment and process.
Also, I feel like we’re putting a real stake in the ground on cups—it’s been a long road and I think being able to join with Closed Loop partners and other like-minded companies feels like a major milestone to push things ahead. The goal for the NextGen Cup Challenge is to find a technology that works for recoverability – either recycling or composting. And importantly, through the business accelerator, we will work to ensure the technology is commercially viable and designed with supporting infrastructure.
4. What was your Personal Path to Sustainability?
It was a non-traditional path and there was no one big ‘aha’ moment, it was more like following a gravitational pull!
I felt drawn to contribute to the social impact space, and I first did this through sustainability and community efforts. I went from marketing to brand strategy to director of Ethos Water. Then on to the CSR team managing stakeholder engagement. This led to managing Starbucks advocacy and policy engagement, which in turn led to leading our social impact and sustainability strategy, including food donation, investor relations and key stakeholder engagement and reporting. I’ve been with Starbucks since 2001 and am grateful to be able to work with such smart, dedicated colleagues who are committed every day to growing and leading in the social impact and sustainability space. I’m especially humbled to have been able to play a role in shaping the work and bringing together a best-in-class team.
5. If you could travel in time what would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Brace yourself — you’re going places you did not imagine! Oh, and one day vegan food will actually taste good, and you should also probably buy Bitcoin.
6. If you had a magic wand and could completely solve one sustainability problem, what would it be?
If granted one wish it would be safe and readily accessible water for everyone in the world. I’ve been thinking about this since I went to Ethiopia in 2005 and saw firsthand how clean water and access to sanitation can lead to a more resilient community that empowers women and girls. My time spent with Mercy Corp, Conservation International and other NGO’s has imprinted me for life, it’s another reason that I made a professional and personal commitment to work in sustainability.
(And if granted two wishes, I would create single-use packaging that could magically disappear once the product was consumed!).
Colleen Chapman, VP Brand Stewardship and Impact, Starbucks, was in conversation with Etienne White. Some answers have been edited to fit a shorter format.
May 9, 2018