Calgary students pitch #BetterCup to Starbucks, company listens

Click to play video: 'Calgary Grade 6 students pitch #BetterCup to Starbucks shareholders' Calgary Grade 6 students pitch #BetterCup to Starbucks shareholders
Wed, Mar 21: Calgary Grade 6 students Mya Chau and Eve Helman brought their petition for better, greener coffee cups to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson on Tuesday. The coffee giant agreed with the ambitious girls, announcing a new plan for 100% recyclable cups in three years. Blake Lough reports – Mar 22, 2018

Two Calgary elementary school students met with Starbucks stakeholders to present a petition that garnered more than 300,000 signatures.

Mya Chau and Eve Helman launched their #BetterCup campaign after researching disposable coffee cups for a school science project. Their petition calls on Starbucks to develop a 100 per cent recyclable cup.

“There’s a plastic and wax lining inside that’s really stuck to the paper… So we want them to make a cup that’s recyclable everywhere in the world,” Chau said.

In Calgary, disposable cups lined with polyethylene are accepted as part of the recycling program. In cities like Toronto, however, coffee cups are not accepted in blue bins. Because of this, many cups are thrown in the trash and end up in the landfill.

READ MORE: Paper coffee cups now accepted in Calgary’s blue cart recycling bins

As the students’ petition gained more signatures, the girls received an invite from Starbucks to attend a shareholders meeting and to personally meet CEO Kevin Johnson in Seattle, WA.

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Eve Helman (left) and Mya Chau meet Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson in Seattle. Submitted / Julie Byrnes
“We handed in our petition on a USB, and [Johnson] was like, ‘Ooh! It’s digital!’” Chau said.

The coffee company told Global News they applauded the students’ “initiative and creativity” and that they shared a common goal.

“Their visit coincided with a major sustainability announcement the company made that goes even beyond the asks in the petition,” a Starbucks spokesperson said.

That announcement is the launch of the “NextGen Cup Challenge”; a Starbucks initiative tasked with developing a “fully recyclable and compostable cup” within three years.

Chau and Helman said they were excited to hear the announcement, but added that there are still steps the company can take to reduce waste.

“At the meeting, we saw all these disposable cups everywhere that everyone was drinking. There was a lot of people so there were a lot of cups,” Helman said. She suggested coffee drinkers should always use a reusable cup.

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“We want Starbucks to offer in-house ceramic mugs if [customers are] going to stay in the store,” Chau added.

The #BetterCup campaign is still online and the two girls are encouraging supporters to offer their own advice on how Starbucks can continue becoming a more environmentally sustainable company.

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