Starbucks' coffee cups are a crucial part of the chain's brand -- but they're also a major environmental headache. Switching to recyclable or compostable materials has helped reduce the cups' impact, but the bigger problem is educating consumers and creating a recycling infrastructure capable of processing the cups. People enjoy holding cups labeled biodegradable or compostable, says researcher Peter Senge. But, he adds, "the fact is, you're going to dump it in a trash can, and then it goes in a landfill sealed in an airtight bag. That cup will never break down."

Related Summaries