Bowing to Pressure, Starbucks Quits Sourcing Water in Drought-Stricken California
Starbucks is taking action to make sure their bottled water intended to help water-stressed communities around the world doesn’t have the opposite effect in California.
The coffee company announced on Thursday that it is moving the sourcing and manufacturing of Ethos Water, the bottled water sold and owned by Starbucks, out of California as the state struggles during a severe drought. Beginning the first week of May and continuing until early June, the company will move production to a Pennsylvania supplier, as well as exploring new West Coast sources and suppliers.
“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,” John Kelly, Starbucks senior vice president of global responsibility and public policy, said in a statement.
Starbucks came under fire for bottling water drawn in an "exceptional drought" territory in Merced, Calif., a few weeks ago, after a Mother Jones article on the issue. While the company initially told media outlets it was following state and local laws and had reduced water usage, on Tuesday a spokesperson told Entrepreneur that Starbucks was exploring alternative water sources.
While other companies such as Nestle have faced similar criticism for bottling water free of charge while California residents are forced to drastically cut back on water intake, Starbucks faced increased scrutiny due to the perceived hypocrisy of Ethos Water. The bottled water brand, which Starbucks acquired in 2005, is dedicated to raising awareness of the world water crisis and dedicates five cents from every $1.95 bottle sold toward supporting water, sanitation and hygiene education programs in countries including Tanzania, Indonesia and Colombia.
Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor.