Starting a Green Business: A Case Study
According to research, Americans use 50 billion disposable cups every year and most are not recycled. Given this statistic, a company that makes its money selling coffee seems an unlikely role model for green business. However, coffee giant Starbucks has become just that – and ContentIntelligent is here to show how you can do the same!
The Problem With Coffee Cups
Back in the 90s, when the evils of Styrofoam containers were the talk of environmentalists, many restaurants switched from Styrofoam packaging to paper. The problem with paper coffee cups is that most of them are lined with petroleum-based plastic called polyethylene. Because of this, about 99.75% of paper coffee cups are not recyclable.
What Starbucks Is Doing to Fix Their Coffee Cup Problem
Starbucks is testing a new type of paper coffee cup that replaces the plastic lining with a compostable liner. Their effort is part of a larger initiative called the NextGen Cup Challenge. This challenge aims to push the market further. Instead of just finding ways to reduce the waste from single-use products, the goal is to transition to reusable products.
What You Can Learn From This Example
There is more than one way to approach starting a green business. You can focus on businesses that aren't problematic. You can create a green alternative to a problematic business model, or you can enter a problematic industry and find ways to make it less problematic.
The Challenges of Making a Business Green
Startup costs for a new business vary significantly based on the size and type of business. While the administrative costs of establishing a business in the United States average an affordable $725, there are many other costs to consider, such as the cost to set up your business website.
Starting a green business can add extra expense due to the higher price of sustainable materials and the premium many green suppliers charge to cover their additional expenses. Starbucks committed $10 million to develop more sustainable coffee cups. However, that represents just a fraction of the company's more than $29 billion in net revenues in 2021 alone.
Turning an Extra Cost Into a Revenue Stream
While it may cost more to run a green business, green practices also offer marketing opportunities. Almost two-thirds of Americans say they will pay more for sustainable products. Marketing your business to these customers can not only help you recoup your added expenses but provide you with a built-in reason customers should choose your business over the competition.
Also, bear in mind that by marketing digitally, you’re cutting down on paper waste. Best of all, online marketing is one of the best ways to reach your customers anyway – and also one of the most cost-effective. For instance, try this online banner creator for free, then display your banner on your website and other social media locations to help spread the word!
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
All of that sounds great, but it isn't enough to just talk to the talk when it comes to running a green business. You must actually find ways to make your business green.
Start by measuring your company's carbon footprint. To assess this, gather data about your business activities and the emissions each activity generates and add all your emissions together. You can try crunching the numbers yourself, but it may be helpful to use online calculators or hire a company to do the estimating for you.
Once you know your starting point, then work on ways to improve your numbers, such as reducing waste or using renewable energy. Starbucks' effort to redesign its cups is an example of reducing waste. They also have renewable energy and other goals aimed at reducing their carbon footprint.
Starbucks is just one example of how even massive companies can reduce their negative impact on the environment by implementing green practices. Studying these examples can be a great source of inspiration for any new green business owner.