OAKLAND, Calif. – A controversy erupted last when a United Kingdom newspaper reported that millions of gallons of water was being wasted by Starbucks each day because of its policy of keeping taps running non-stop at thousands of stores around the world.
The water, constantly running into sinks called dipper wells, is aimed at washing utensils but it quickly adds up: The Sun estimated Starbucks wastes 6.2 million gallons of water daily. According to the report, staff were forbidden to turn off the water in order to keep germs from breeding inside the taps.
Starbucks defended its actions, saying the running taps were needed to meet health standards. Yet several employees throughout the world told The Sun that though the water was always running, few used it for its intended purpose.
The company ordered the taps be turned off and is now testing alternatives to disinfect the spoons, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
Environmental groups blasted the company. And ironically, a U.K. public relations agency previously warned Starbucks that its practice of leaving taps running threatened its ethical position, PR week reported. An anonymous source told the publication his or her agency predicted the practice could be a potential problem for the company.