Starbucks and Sustainable Palm Oil

Starbucks shares the concern with NGO’s and activists that because tropical forests are being cleared for oil palm cultivation, destroying habitat and biodiversity and impacting communities, more must be done. Although Starbucks is a comparatively minor purchaser of RSPO Palm Oil (.009% of the world’s supply and would rank 65th of 100 companies that are publicly reporting), we believe it is important for our company, suppliers and the industry to work together to address environmental and social impacts.

With a 40-year effort to ethically and sustainably source coffee, Starbucks has – through implementation of our Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) practices – helped farmers increase their yields without encroaching or destroying forests land (Conservation International Executive Summary of Starbucks Ethical Coffee).

Starbucks is committed to sourcing deforestation free, peat free, and exploitation free palm oil. This approach is consistent with our C.A.F.E. and Cocoa Practices programs, and is a stronger focus on preserving high carbon stock and remaining peat areas and managing existing plantations on peat according to best practices. As members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), we are engaging the organization and other industry stakeholders regarding sustainable production practices and support efforts.

To further demonstrate this commitment and encourage greater transparency, Starbucks will begin publicly reporting total tons of RSPO palm oil purchased through the RSPO’s Annual Communication of Progress (ACOP) reporting mechanism in February. Starbucks will also announce, along with other sustainability and ethical sourcing commitments for 2020, a timeline for achieving our zero deforestation commitment in company owned, licensed and joint venture stores globally.

Since making our commitment in 2013, we have worked with suppliers to ensure they use only RSPO certified palm oil for Starbucks-branded products in company-owned stores globally by the end of 2015. We are now in the process of working with our licensed and joint-venture partners to encourage them to adopt this same commitment. Only palm oil with a traceability level of Mass Balance, Segregation, or stronger is acceptable. GreenPalm Certificates are not accepted as they do not provide supply chain traceability.



July: Make commitment to use only Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified palm oil from Mass Balance or Segregation traceability systems for Starbucks branded products in company operated stores. Follow best practices established by major purchasers and the traceability they provide, we require suppliers to use RSPO certified palm oil from Mass Balance and Segregation systems. Determine that because GreenPalm Certificates do not provide traceability, they do not meet Starbucks transparency criteria.


April: Join RSPO Roundtable, the only recognized certification for responsibly sourced palm oil, and support efforts to improve industry standards.


June: Join 15 likeminded companies, investors and NGOs to become a signatory of the Green Century letter which calls on RSPO to deepen and broaden its work on traceability and community impacts.

July: Expand Palm Oil Policy to include our zero-tolerance approach to deforestation, preserving high carbon stock and peat areas.


January: Consistent with Starbucks initial publically-stated commitment, we will report on our progress toward our 100% goal through RSPO’s Annual Communications of Progress reporting process.

March: Announce a time-bound commitment to extend our palm oil policy beyond company-owned stores as part of Starbucks Global Responsibility 2020 Goals.