Starbucks Corporation

The coffee shop giant has tried to clean up its image by introducing Fairtrade coffee to its stores.

However it recently became embroiled in a new scandal over its tax avoidance with campaign group UKUncut carrying out a co-ordinated campaign against them.

So just how ethical is the world's largest coffee chain? With 17,000 coffee shops in about 40 countries it has the potential to make a huge difference in the world.


In April 2016 Starbucks received Ethical Consumer's middle ranking for its supply chain management. 

The company was found to only have a 'reasonable' supply chain policy which covered many key aspects including limiting working hours. It had a 'rudimentary' approach to stakeholder engagement, 'poor' auditing and reporting and a 'poor' approach to difficult issues.

The company had also not signed up to pay its UK staff a living wage. In an industry where low pay is endemic Ethical Consumer considered signing up to the Living Wage Foundation's minimum pay levels vital to ensure a decent level of pay for workers. 


In April 2016 Starbucks' Global Sustainability Report 2014 received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for environmental reporting. 

While Starbuck's talked about some of its impacts from farming it did not talk about the use of pesticides nor did it mention the environmental impacts of dairy farming. Therefore Starbuck's was not considered to have demostrated a reasonable understanding of its environmental impacts. 

The report did contain environmental targets however these were dated to be achieved in 2015. No future environmental targets could be found.


In March 2015 Starbuck's website stated the company only used free-range eggs and 100% pole and line caught tuna. 

However they have been criticised by campaign group GMO Inside for their milk sourcing. Campaigners report that cows supplying milk to Starbucks were bred on a constant cycle using artificial insemination, and lived in extremely crowded and unnatural conditions such as standing on the concrete floor of a barn surrounded by their own urine and faeces.


In April 2016 Starbucks received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies. The company had a number of subsidiaries based in tax havens including three holding companies registered in Hong Kong - Starbucks Asia Pacific Investment Holding Limited and Starbucks Asia Pacific Investment Holding III Limited. It also had an investment company in Singapore: STARBUCKS SINGAPORE INVESTMENT PTE. LTD.

Image: Starbucks
  • Ethical Consumer Best Buy: No
  • Boycotts: No

Company information

Company Ethiscore

Company Address:

2401 Utah Ave


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