Starbucks announced plans this week to move its bottled water production out of California due to prolonged drought conditions. The company’s water subsidiary, Ethos, will relocate its manufacturing and production to its Pennsylvania supplier over the next 6 months while it searches for another West Coast supplier and new sources of water.
The company was prompted to take swift action following a report published by Mother Jones last week regarding Starbucks’ bottling plant in Merced, CA, a city which was deemed to be in excessive drought conditions by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Moreover, the expose also reported that the water bottled at the same Merced plant was sourced from private springs in Baxter, CA, which is an unincorporated community in Placer County, CA that was also deemed to be in excessive drought conditions.
As Starbucks prepares to move its bottled water production to Pennsylvania due to California drought conditions, the company released a statement saying the decision to move its Ethos water sourcing and distribution from California was part of a plan, along with in-store reduction methods, that the Seattle, WA-based coffee company was taking to aid water conservation in partnership with state and local government agencies. Moreover, the company has stated that it will strive to reduce its water consumption by more than 25 percent in-store and other company-related endeavors.
Starbucks purchased Ethos Water back in 2005, and the company addressed its purchase as a way to assist in the global humanitarian water crisis. For every bottle sold, Starbucks has donated five cents to its Ethos Water Fund for global water conservation efforts. According to reports, the Seattle coffee company has donated over $12 million to water, hygiene, and sanitation programs in Indonesia, Latin America, and Africa.
California’s drought conditions, which have prompted Starbucks to move its bottled water production and distribution out of the state, are nothing new. However, in the face of the four-year drought, unprecedented conservation measures are now being imposed by Governor Jerry Brown (D-California). For the first time, Gov. Brown has imposed mandatory water restrictions on urban water consumption, which only accounts for approximately 10 percent of water usage in California. These restrictions include shorter showers, restricted lawn care and use of sprinklers, and limited car washes. Many California residents and lawmakers are baffled by these imposed restrictions on citizens while 40 percent of California’s water supply is dumped into the Pacific Ocean.
As Starbucks prepares to move its Ethos bottled water production to Pennsylvania due to prolonged drought conditions in California, many wonder whether or not the Seattle-based coffee company will locate new water sources and distribution for its West Coast operations closer to home. The company is searching for new resources and Washington state could serve as a new distribution hub, as well as the company’s headquarters. Meanwhile, California is struggling to deal with one of the worst droughts in modern history. At four years and counting, residents are perplexed as well as bewildered by Gov. Brown’s mandatory water restrictions on urban water consumption, which only accounts for approximately 10 percent of water usage in California, while 40 percent of the state’s water supply continues to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean. The solution seems clear to many–stop sending that water into the Pacific, and allocate it to the cities and homes in California. However, others contend the solution is not that clear-cut. Therefore, how exactly California will remedy its prolonged drought conditions, and where Starbucks’ Ethos will relocate its manufacturing and production, as well as identify new water sources, on the West Coast, as it searches for a new supplier and distribution hub, remains to be seen.
By Leigh Haugh
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