We can easily find paper straws served when visiting franchise cafes and drinking beverages. Starbucks is the company that firstly applied paper straws in Korea. Since November 2018, it has expanded and applied paper straws and wooden sticks to stores nationwide, and has also developed ice cup lids that can be drunk without straws. Starbucks Korea has maintained the “Disposable Cup-free Store” campaign since January 2011, along with the Ministry of Environment, the Green Start Network, and the Korea Zero Waste Movement Network. It provides beverages on mugs when drinking at stores. In addition, the material for packaging has changed to an eco-friendly material. Activities to protect the environment have been carried out by reducing the use of disposable plastics. The company has created an image of empathy enterprise by not only changing product materials, but also using ecofriendly construction materials in store design, and implementing strategies based on energy saving and recycling promotion. Starbucks, implementing eco-friendly policies to reduce plastic usage, delivered a good corporate image to people. However, it is also known as a brand that gives consumers joy by releasing seasonal goods and tumblers frequently.
The “Reusable Cup Event,” held on September 28th, was popular among consumers. Even my acquaintances, who did not enjoy visiting Starbucks, visited it due to the event to get cups. The event was giving a free reusable cup when ordering beverages. However, questions arose as to whether the reusable cup provided by Starbucks is helpful to protect the environment. CIRAIG, a Canadian environmental protection organization, announced that plastic tumblers should be used more than 50 times to be meaningful, but Starbucks’ reusable cup was recommended to be used less than 20 times. The contradiction between the company’s eco-friendly policy and actual marketing was not just the case in the event held on this September. The seasonal MD (Merchandise), a symbol of Starbucks, also encourages consumers to collect goods, but there is no concrete explanation for whether the process to dispose inventories is done properly compared to the rapid cycle of product replacement.
Since the information sharing spaces expanded due to the growth of Social Network Service (SNS), more people are buying seasonal MD to post on their accounts and show that they are following the trend. Starbucks always insists that selling tumblers is to reduce the usage of disposable plastics and protect the environment. However, I think that the current marketing strategy of it is deteriorated from the initial purpose, and the company is just chasing economic gains. Isn’t the Starbucks MD marketing “green washing” that shows contradictory behavior of mass-producing plastics wastes to reduce plastics? Green washing is a communication and marketing strategy adopted by companies, and it consists in putting forward ecological arguments in order to forge an ecologically responsible image of company among the publics. If Starbucks truly considers the environment, it should stop the green washing marketing, practically contribute to carbon reduction, and carry out sincere management.
Chung Hye-ji firstname.lastname@example.org
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