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Starbucks accused of wasting water

2008-10-08 08:03:40 GMT2008-10-08 16:03:40 (Beijing Time) Reuters

It boasts about its environmental credentials but the coffee giant Starbucks is in hot water.

A British newspaper claims the company wastes 23 million litres of water every day - that's enough to meet the daily needs of the entire population of drought-hit Namibia.

Starbucks uses "dipper wells" in thousands of its stores around the world to clean utensils.

They work by keeping the cold tap constantly running.

The practice has been condemned by water companies and environmentalists.

James Alexander is head of The Green Thing.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JAMES ALEXANDER, CEO, THE GREEN THING, SAYING:

"For western consumers to leave a tap running, be it in a coffee bar or at home, I think is untenable these days."

One British University Professor also says it shows how under-valued water is in some countries.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR PAUL EKINS, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON, SAYING:

"If they are wasting 23 million litres of water, it must be that they consider the economic cost of that is not sufficient to cause them to save that kind of water. And that says to me that we're not charging enough for the water or all the resources that go into purifying the water. And we need to review that very urgently to stop waste of this kind."

In a statement Starbucks says the taps are run at low pressure and staff are instructed to turn them off when the stores are closed.

They say dipper wells are a "common and well-accepted" technique within the industry.

And they allow the stores to "meet or exceed our own and local health standards".

Starbucks also maintains it cares about the environment.

On it's website it says it's "established high standards for environmental responsibility."

The company is now working on alternative solutions to reduce water consumption "as a priority" but it says switching to a new system will take a while.

Sonia Legg, Reuters.

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