Viral TikTok Exposes How Much Food Starbucks Throws Away

One of the big issues we face as a nation is how much food we waste. Per the FDA, up to 40% of the food we buy each year goes straight into the landfill. This isn't just an American problem, either, as it's estimated about $1 trillion worth of food worldwide goes to waste each year, which is more than the net worth of the Trumps and Kardashians put together. While home consumers are provided with all manner of tips on how to reduce food waste, how are we expected to save the planet on our own if big corporations won't follow suit? Case in point: Starbucks.

In one viral TikTok video (over 1.4 million views and counting), an employee who appears to be working at an in-store Target Starbucks exposes an egregious example of waste from the coffee chain. As part of their closing duties, they filled up two entire carts with baked goods that they were then told to toss in the trash. While these items may well have been approaching their sell-by date, this just refers to the date at which they may no longer be at peak flavor. The USDA itself notes that expired packaged baked goods aren't generally all that risky to consume, noting merely that these may "eventually" taste stale or off. With that being said, was it necessary for this Starbucks to dispose of its unsold goodies by feeding no one but the store dumpsters?

Starbucks does have corporate anti-waste policies in place

We'd like to reiterate, as we begin exploring Starbucks' policy about food waste, that the TikTok in question did not disclose any secret that necessarily pertains to Starbucks as a whole. It was no more than an example of what happened at a single store on a single shift, so can't be used as a blanket condemnation of the coffee chain without further evidence that it is common practice at multiple stores. 


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As a corporation, Starbucks does, in fact, endorse less wasteful actions in regard to its unsold food. Much of Starbucks' unsold food is purportedly donated to those in need via the company's Foodshare program, which it described in one of its Starbucks Stories. While the program is nationwide, its impact is felt locally. For example, the Starbucks stores in Los Angeles County donated over a million pounds (perhaps closer to two) of surplus food in 2021. Starbucks also discloses that it does receive a federal tax benefit in support of this initiative, but only half of these funds go to cover the logistical end while the rest are donated to food banks and similar programs meant to help alleviate food insecurity.