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Starbucks Moving Ethos Water Operations Out of California; Walmart Faces Petition to Do the Same

Image credit: CNN

Starbucks has become the latest corporation to move its water bottling operations out of California: Last Thursday, the company announced that it would move sourcing and manufacturing of its Ethos Water out of state due to the serious drought conditions and necessary water-conservation efforts in California.  

Over the next six months, Starbucks plans to move production to its Pennsylvania supplier, while exploring alternatives to transition to a new source and supplier to serve the company’s West Coast distribution.

So far, Starbucks says it has decreased its in-store water usage in the state by 26 percent through sustainable building and water-conservation practices.

“We are committed to our mission to be a globally responsible company and to support the people of the state of California as they face this unprecedented drought,” said John Kelly, Starbucks’ SVP of Global Responsibility and Public Policy. “The decision to move our Ethos water sourcing from California and reduce our in-store water usage by more than 25 percent are steps we are taking in partnership with state and local governments to accelerate water conservation.”

Starbucks, along with Pepsi, acquired Ethos Water in 2005 in an effort to help address the global humanitarian water crisis. Since then, Starbucks has invested over $12 million in water, sanitation and hygiene education in coffee-growing countries in Africa, Indonesia and Latin America.  

In the wake of Starbucks’ announcement and after news broke that Walmart’s bottled water was tapped from Sacramento’s municipal water supply, members of the California-based Courage Campaign are now demanding that the retailer immediately stop its bottling operations in the state. The petition has been signed by more than 11,000 people since going live less than 24 hours ago.

“While California is facing one of the most severe droughts in history and people all over the state are doing their part to conserve water, it is outrageous that Walmart would continue to take this precious resource at way below cost and sell it back to Californians and consumers across the country for a profit,” explained Tim Molina, Los Angeles resident and strategic campaign organizer for the Courage Campaign. “Everyone in California is doing their part to protect our water supply, and Walmart needs to follow Starbucks’ example and stop bottling the little water California has left.”

The Courage Campaign launched a similar petition against Nestlé last month, garnering over 135,000 signatures asking the company to shut down its California water bottling operations. Just last week, Ceres released a report ranking the country's 37 largest food companies on how effectively they are managing freshwater supplies; despite the ongoing controversy over its California bottling operations, Nestlé ranked #2 in the Packaged Food category.


Caitlin Kauffman is Sustainable Brands' acting Editorial Assistant. She recieved her Bachelor's in International Relations and Peace and Conflict Studies from CU Boulder. She has written for several publications including Sierra Magazine and O.A.R.S. As a women's health educator she… [Read more about Caitlin Kauffman]


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