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Use of Paper Coffee Cups at Starbucks USA: Research Proposal Assessment Answer

Element 010 Title: 3,000 Word Research Proposal

Task: In Week 7 you are invited to submit an 800 word literature review. You will receive in class feedback that should then be used to develop and inform your end of semester 3000 word research proposal. As this is a formative assessment no marks will be awarded for this assessment. However, it is strongly advised that you complete and submit your literature review as this is central to your learning process. You are therefore advised to follow the instructions of your tutor in regard to the submission of this formative assessment.

Summative Assignment Research Proposal

Introduction: (chapter 1)/( around 800words)
Background and Rationale
Research Statement/Aims  

Mark 10%

Research objectives
Research questions

  1. The format Have to be in 1.0-introduction (for chapter 1)

                            1.1 background of the study

                            1.2 problem of statement

1.3 research objective

1.4 conclusion for chapter 1

Literature review: (chapter 2)/ (around 1000words)

Mark 30%

2.0 literature review (this part have to have enough!referencing) (VERY IMPORTANT PART)!!!!!

2.1 introduction for chapter 2

2.2 definition and explanation of terms of topic/ talk about the topic

2.3 continue 2.1

2.4 theories (need theoretical framework!!!)

**2.5 how I form research question/ explain how I develop research question 4-5research questions

-relevant referencing and citation

-form hypothesis

-form 4-5 research questions (EX: from the literature review above the first research question is formed: RQ1- what is ~~~`)

One paragraph with one literature review and an research question

Another paragraph explaining about another literature review and another research question

       - 4-5 research questions

       -different factors

       -research questions (form) RQ1, RQ2, RQ3, RQ4…

       -find the answer

       - form hypothesis


2.6 conclusions for chapter 2

Research Design and Methodology: (chapter 3)/ (around 1200 words)

Paradigm of enquiry
Data collection methods

Mark 40% 

Data analysis procedures

3.0 methods

3.1 introduction for chapter 3

End with conclusion for chapter 3

Ethical issues

Mark 10%

(N.B. An ethics application must be included as an Appendix in your submission)

Time scale: 

Rationale and “Plan B”

Mark 10%

Your assignment should be well structured and presented and clearly include academic sources and supporting references, indicated in the assignment and listed in the references section.

  1. The topic should be related to solving an issue, any business related issue. Have to write that issue into a problem statement.

(EX: An analysis on the effectiveness of marketing strategies at Help Cat

(EX: An analysis of consumer buying behavior for Apple Company in Malaysia

***** the topic need a specific organization ( not a broad topic have to be specific!!!)

*****It have to be an business related issue and then do the research

  1. There should be an clear and exact problem with research for resolution
  2. Referencing should be Harvard referencing-standardize and in a alphabet order

*******All the chapters should be related

******marks are by chapter by chapter so all the chapters have to be related and it need a flow

******all the chapters should start with introduction and end with conclusion

******use literature to back up the assignment

***overall conclusion is no need (only conclusions for 3 chapters) 


Use of Paper Coffee Cups and Issue of Sustainability at Starbucks USA

1. Introduction

1.1 Background and Rationale

Present day lifestyle is dominated by plastic an increasing dependency of people on plastic products like tea and coffee cups made up of plastic. The popularity is because of the convenience and availability anytime anywhere making it easy for people to grab a cup of coffee on the go and toss the cup in any nearest trashcan (Wals, 2012). With the increased usage of paper coffee cups is becoming a key source of environmental pollution and degradation (Dobers ad Strannegard, 2005). At the same time the growing popularity of coffee houses like Starbucks has made the use of paper coffee cups a necessity to enjoy the hot beverages on the go (Lee, 2015). Additionally, there is a dramatic rise in consumption of coffee, the usage of paper coffee cups is becoming even more popular acting as a major environmental threat across the coffee industry (Convery et al., 2007).

People have a perception about sanitary and convenience benefits of disposable cups while ignoring the polluting effect of such products. The popular coffee companies like Starbucks (USA) have taken some key steps and initiatives to reduce the usage of paper coffee cups and bring in a change in perception of people in relation to usage of disposable cups (Kamenetz, 2010). There is a need o explore the initiatives considered by coffee houses to reduce the landfill and meet their responsibility related to sustainable operations. 

It is to be noted that business houses hold the responsibility of ensuring sustainability in operations and bring in a change in behavioural psychology to act as a tool of minimizing the efficacy of sustainability programs. However, there are minimal studies available on analysing the initiatives taken by coffee houses like Starbucks to bring in a change in the society and reduce the impact of operations on environment. It is the responsibility of such coffee companies to make people aware about the use of coffee paper cups lined with thin plastic and brings a change in habits of people (Hocking, 2010).

There are several studies explaining the need of educating people about usage of plastic and associated drawbacks (Ciciriello et al., 2016). However, there is a need to identify the sustainability initiatives undertaken by Starbucks in USA for reducing the usage of paper cups and introduce alternate solutions fro driving change through changing consumer preference for disposable cups. Studying such initiatives will help in finding possible and practical alternatives to meet the needs and expectations of consumers while reducing the impact on environment. Therefore, the rationale is to explore the offline and online marketing strategies proving to be effective in changing consumer behaviour and focusing on awareness as well as giving alternate options of consuming coffee on the go. 

1.2 Problem Statement

An analysis of sustainability issues and initiatives undertaken by Starbucks to ensure sustainability in its USA distribution

1.3 Research Objectives

The proposed study is focused on achieving the following research objectives:

  1. To explore sustainability initiatives undertaken by Starbucks and impact of such initiatives on environmental protection in USA
  2. To explore the sustainability initiatives in related to use of paper coffee cups and reducing the impact on environment
  3. To explore the effectiveness of eco-friendly projects to achieve the goals of recycling and reducing the impact on environment

1.4 Conclusion

The above discussion makes it clear that the global nature of coffee industry is responsible for the several issues related to sustainability with manufacturing, logistics, and overall supply chain of coffee. Additionally, the consumption of coffee in paper cups pose high degree of sustainability risk that should be considered and tackled by coffee companies like Starbucks across the world. A long list of studies focused on sustainable coffee are limited to biological diversity of farms and low input of chemicals. However, the challenges are faced while distributing sustainable coffee among consumers through paper cups as they fail to meet the standards of sustainability. Hence, a detailed research study is proposed to explore the sustainability initiatives taken by Starbucks and understands the effective ways of bringing in a change in consumer preferences and creating awareness to reduce the usage of disposable cups. 

2. Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

Within the last few years, there is a tremendous rise in studies related to behavioural economics, psychology and sustainability. The proposed study helps in exploring the way companies can create awareness and bring in a change in consumer behaviour and attitude towards their responsibility to environment and sustainability Braw, 2014). With the aim of bringing some changes in behaviour of consumers, it is of utmost importance to understand the way people perceive the environment around them. However, it is the responsibility of coffee companies to reduce the environmental impact of their product distribution by creating awareness as well as change people’s perception about the usage of disposable cups. Thus, the proposed subject is related to several theories and frameworks related to behaviour of people, awareness, perception, motivation, stimulus etc. that are discussed in the following sections of the literature review. The focus of this literature review is on identifying the theoretical underpinnings and defines the research questions to act as the guiding path towards data collection and analysis. 

2.2 Definition and Explanation of terms of topic

Sustainability: The issue of sustainability refers to the quality of operations, products and services in order to avoid any harm to the environment or natural resources thereby ensuring a strong support towards maintenance of the ecological balance.  

Paper Coffee Cups: these are the disposable paper cups with a thin layer of plastic within making these non-renewable and non-recyclable in nature. These are harmful for the environment by posing a heavy burden on landfill (Braw, 2014). 

2.3 Theoretical Framework

 Stages of Change Theory

 Stages of Change Theory

Source: Greenberg et al. (2010). Physical Fitness and Wellness

2.4 Research Questions

The target research questions of the proposed research study are:

CSR Motives

The initiatives undertaken by organizations for reducing the environmental impact of disposable cups are related with their CSR commitment. Here, it is necessary to explore the motives or objectives of companies in engaging such CSR initiatives and exploring the ‘Three Domain Approach” model (Schwartz and Carroll, 2003). This approach also known as ‘Pyramid of CSR’ talks of three key areas namely, economic, legal and ethical responsibilities of business houses (figure 1). The economic domain is related with profitability and CSR is directly related to this motive of benefit by improving the overall value-chain of the Company (Marrewijk, 2013). Then there is legal domain with the objective of obeying law and related to legal expectations from companies about sustainability standards. Finally, there is the ethical domain where the focus is on sustained legitimization with ethical responsibility of companies towards environment (Kane, 2014 and Legrand,et al., 2014). 

The Three-Domain Model of Corporate Social Responsibility

Figure 1: The Three-Domain Model of Corporate Social Responsibility

Source: Schwartz and Carroll (2003). Corporate Social Responsibility: A Three-Domain Approach

The above literature gives rise to following research question:

What are some of the sustainability project undertaken by Starbucks to reduce environmental impact on operations and focus on CSR in USA?

Increasing usage of paper coffee cups

The increasing demand for products puts an increasing stress on natural resources thereby having an impact on overall sustainability (Dobers and Strannegard, 2005). Present day buyers are more aware of the environmental impact of choices made by them and therefore business organizations develop new products to provide convenience products and offering a wide range of choices claiming to be organic or environment-friendly. Here the term ‘green washing’ suits the situation relating to the consumer perception about mislead by the businesses about the environmental practices and operations (Gagnon et al., 2013 and Goulding, 2017). This makes it necessary to create awareness about the sustainability of products and services and make people aware about the actual impact of using more of paper coffee cups that are lined with thin plastic (Hocking, 2010 and Hopewell et al., 2012).

The above literature provides the following research question:

What is the impact of using paper coffee cups on sustainability?

Change in Behaviour

The process of changing the behaviour of people is a multi-layers complex process where the change flows through a series of steps. In order to achieve a behavioural change it is important to be well aware about the need of such a change and making people aware of the benefits of the change (Manzano, 2012). Here the process of learning should be considered where the behaviour changing process is divided into 3 areas of learning process, decision-making and motivational process (Littell and Girvin, 2010). Under learning process the focus is on stimulus, sensory system and recorded memories while decision making and experiences is about the awareness in second part followed by third section of motivation that actually brings in the expected change (Figure 2). 

The Behavioural Change Model

Figure 2: The Behavioural Change Model

Source: Manzano, 2012

Here it is to be noted that behavioral change process starts with the stimuli that can be internal or external and influence the basic sensory namely, visual, auditory, tasks, olfactory and tactile. An influence on any of these senses results in some memories in human brain that stores new experiences and pathways as short-term memory (Manzano, 2012). With the repeated stimulus and experiences available to people, they tries to make a change and understand the next step as a feedback to stimulus resulting in long-term memory (Fisher, 2008). 

This is further taken to the process of decision-making where several complex steps are involved and related with reaction of individual towards familiar commands resulting in quick execution of the action as it is based on the long-term memory. Such reaction to familiar command gives rise to decision-making that is further motivated through knowledge experiences resulting in behavioural change (Fisher, 1990).

The research question derived from above discussion is:

 How does people perceive and make decision leading to consumer behaviour?

Behavioural Change Theories

There are several theories of behavioural change like Social cognitive theory, Theory of planned behaviour (TPB), Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) and many more (Breinbauer, 2015 and Eysenck, 2010). Here theory of planned behaviour is popular as a socio-psychological model helping to understand and predict future consumer behaviour. Under this theory the immediate antecedent of a particular behaviour is the intention to indulge in some behaviour (Eyenck, 2013). This intention can be based on behavioural beliefs, normative beliefs or control beliefs (Rush, 2014). Any change in behaviour needs to focus on these three areas and strategies should be defined keeping the target behaviour in consideration (Figure 3). 

Theory of Planned Behavior

Figure 3: Theory of Planned Behavior

Source: Rush, V.L. (2014). Planned Behavior

The above-discussed theory gave the following research question:

What are the results of eco-friendly projects focused on reducing the use of paper coffee cups?

Therefore the research questions of the proposed study are:

  • RQ1 What is the impact of using paper coffee cups on sustainability?
  • RQ2 What are some of the sustainability project undertaken by Starbucks to reduce environmental impact on operations and focus on CSR in USA?
  • RQ3 How does people perceive and make decision leading to consumer behaviour?
  • RQ4 What are the results of eco-friendly projects focused on reducing the use of paper coffee cups?


Implementing initiatives focused on changing consumer behaviour will help Starbucks to ensure sustainability of distribution.

2.5 Conclusion

The above initial review of literature clarifies the impact of disposable paper coffee cups on environment and the need for business houses to target the issue with bringing a change in consumer behaviour. The strategies to bring a change should focus on creating awareness about the issues and targeting it under different behavioural underpinnings while selecting the area to be changed leading to a long-term memory related to the target behaviour. There is a need of bringing a complete change in habits of people that is possible through initiatives that are related to making people informed and responsible of their actions towards the environment. 

3. Research Design and Methodology

3.1 Introduction

Every research study is based on a proper methodology based on some underlying philosophical assumptions associated with the validity of the study and applicability of research methods for developing the knowledge under the study. Therefore, it is important to understand the adequate assumptions made while selecting a methodology that can be justified as per the research aim and objectives. The following sections of this chapter present a detailed discussion of the philosophical assumptions, paradigm of enquiry, strategies, approach, data collection, instrument of collecting data and analysis of data to reach the results.

3.2 Paradigm of Enquiry

In the view of Terre and Durrheim (2006), there are three key dimensions of the research process namely ontology, epistemology and methodology. The paradigm of research or enquiry is an all-encompassing system of interrelated practices defining the nature of enquiry along with the three dimensions. It is to be noted that the basic meaning of the term ‘paradigm’ refers to the conceptual framework shared by a scientists’ community offering a model for examining the issues and identifying solutions in a proper way. Here, the meaning of paradigm is related to the pattern, framework and structure of the scientific and academic ideas, values and assumptions (Olsson et al., 2003). The paradigms of ontology and epistemology are associated with the view of individuals about the world around them and influence the perceived relative importance of the aspects of reality. There is a complementary nature of these paradigms where the focus of ontology is on the nature of existence while epistemology is more focused on the way of knowing things. Thus, the proposed study is based on the combined elements of ontology and epistemology with the aim of understanding the objectives as well as the constructive view of seeing the individuals’ perception and behavior in relation to usage of paper coffee cups and the role of Starbucks sustainability initiatives in changing such perception leading to better environmental sustainability. 

3.3 Methodology

The proposed study will follow a qualitative approach to research data where an interpretive and realistic approach towards the subject matter is followed while focusing on the qualities of the entity (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005). Here the analysis of data help in focusing on experiences of people with the sustainability initiatives and the results obtained by the company in terms of reducing the usage of disposable paper coffee cups while creating and awareness about environmental sustainability and safety.

Coming to the research design and strategy, the proposed study will follow the exploratory method of study where the required data is collected through different sources of information. Such research methodology suits the areas where the aim is to explore the magnitude of a particular behavior and the feasibility of an extensive study to be tested on the basis of such results or incidents. Being the study exploratory in nature the data collected will be categorized under some themes like customer perception, awareness about sustainability, knowledge about disposal paper coffee cups, experience and perception about usage of alternatives suggested by Starbucks and strategies providing to be most effective in changing the mindset of people. 

3.4 Data collection methods

The data for the proposed study will be collected through company reports on sustainability from Starbucks (USA). The study will be based on secondary data and therefore the sources of information will be newspapers and magazine articles, Starbucks annual reports related to US operations and distribution, reports on sustainability and Internet sources related to the concepts and areas to be explored under the study. Acquiring information from wide range of resources will help in ensuring collection of experiences and results that people achieve while indulging in sustainability initiatives of Starbucks. 

3.5 Data analysis procedures

The process of analyzing data under qualitative research work is based on direct interpretations of the experiences or information collected from the subjects. The proposed study is based on secondary sources of information related to success and failure of sustainability initiatives undertaken by Starbucks for being environmentally sustainable in its operations and distribution. It is to be noted that the proposed study is based on the data that needs to be categorized under some predefined themes as derived from the objectives of the research study. This will help in discovery of patterns, concepts and meanings of the qualitative data collected from secondary sources of information. A proper categorization will help in making comparisons and contrast among the patterns reflecting on various issues, challenges and results of strategies implemented by Starbucks to ensure sustainability. The data will be analyzed by benchmarking the results with the arguments presented in the literature review. Such an approach of data analysis helps in collection and data analysis driving each other making the detailed and higher level of information synthesis effective. This is so as an iterative cycle here makes it possible to reach concrete answers through continuous checking and revisions.

3.6 Ethical Issues

The data will be collected form secondary sources thereby arising the ethical issue of acknowledging the sources of information. In order to ensure ethical conduct during the research work, proper care will be taken to acknowledge every source of information and the authors providing the source. No information without the name of author or any information provider will be presented or under while conducting the study. At the same time if any of sources of information requires permission of usage from the author, proper care will be taken to get the required permission before using the information available in the target source. Also the collected information will be presented in its original form without affecting it with any personal views or bias ensuring the ethical standards of the secondary study. 

3.7 Conclusion

The proposed study is a qualitative study based on secondary sources of information where the data will be collected on the sustainability initiatives and associated success and failures at Starbucks. The data will be collected and categorized under some pre-defined themes before actually analyzing it through literature benchmarking method of data analysis. The proposed research methodology will ensure an iterative process of revision and checking the results thereby ensuring the authenticity, validity and reliability of results. 

4. Time Scale

ActivityWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9

Proposal Approval



Literature Review

Data Collection

Data Drafting

Data Analysis


Conclusion and Limitations

Final Review

Printing and Binding


Rationale and “Plan B”

The rationale of the discussed methodology is to observe and study the sustainability initiatives as implemented by Starbucks in USA and the impact of such initiatives on improving consumer awareness about usage of disposable paper coffee cups. The focus will be on testing the hypothesis through the method of observation, data collection and literature benchmarking. In case the rationale fails to achieve the research objectives the plan ‘B’ will focus on meeting the consumers directly and collecting qualitative data through direct interviews to understand the experiences and perception of individuals with the sustainability initiatives and alternate to paper coffee cups as provided by Starbucks. Here the focus will be on collecting the real-time information about changing behavior and perception of people due to increased awareness about sustainability. 

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