AP: NEW YORK - Starbucks Corp. is installing new water faucets in its U.S. stores that will allow the company to save about 150 gallons of water a day -- roughly two bathtubs' worth -- at each of its cafes after receiving criticism and as part of a green initiative.
The company said it will no longer run water continuously out of its taps to wash spoons and will instead install new faucets that meter out water. Baristas press the faucet once and high pressure water sprays out long enough to rinse a spoon. The faucets are now being installed in all U.S. stores -- a process that will be completed by September -- and will be delivered to select international stores in the fall. About 600 stores, mainly in California, now have the new faucets.
Stores that do not receive the new metered faucets will use a "single spoon, single pitcher" procedure, which involves using a spoon once and setting it aside to be cleaned and sanitized when dishes are washed.
"These standards balance Starbucks' need to reduce our environmental footprint and to meet the most stringent health safety standards for customer safety, with minimal cost and operational impact," the company said in documents obtained by the Associated Press, which outlined new procedures for using the faucets.
The company uses spoons to stir up its coffee concoctions and hold back foam when pouring steamed milk into its iconic cups. Starbucks mandates that the spoons be rinsed free of any residue between uses and sanitized every two hours.
The changover in faucets comes after the company was criticized by environomental groups for wasting water by keeping the tap turned on all day.
Angel Gardner, a barista in Minneapolis and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World union, characterized the change as "bow to public pressure."
Starbucks said it has been working since 2007 to find an alternative to the practice. Previously, the company had said it needed to keep the water running to prevent germs from breeding in the taps and pipes.
Starbucks said the change is part of the company's Shared Planet initiative, meant to encourage greener, more community-minded practices within the company, which was announced last year.