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Wawa coffee stirrers go sustainable …sorta
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Wawa coffee stirrers go sustainable …sorta

The Delco convenience store chain is leaving the decision up to customers.

Wawa now has two options for its coffee drinkers’ stirring needs – plastic and bamboo. This news was an exciting victory for local father and son, Douglas Capper and 9-year-old Levi, who started a petition last year calling for the convenience store chain to eliminate plastic stirrers.

Yet Capper is walking back the “victory” he declared last month in a post on his Change.org petition after learning last week Wawa intends to keep plastic stirrers available at its coffee stations.

“What’s unfortunate about this is that it went from being a small victory to being an almost invisible one,” Capper said.

The man with a plan

Capper, a resident of Collegeville, Pa., first launched the petition asking Wawa to stop supplying plastic coffee stirrers on Facebook in April 2019, later shifting it to Change.org.

Citing the eventual plastic buildup in landfills and the ocean, Capper emphasized that the plastic stirrers could be easily replaced with wood or bamboo.

By July 2019, nearly 2,500 people had signed the petition, prompting Capper to take his fight directly to Wawa leadership that same month.

“I started reaching out to the people at Wawa, figuring that now was a good time because the petition was gaining attention. I emailed everyone at Wawa and the CEO, Chris [Gheysen], emailed me back,” Capper recalled.

Coffee cop-out?

The change that finally came last month was the introduction of bamboo stirrers in various Wawa locations – a sign to Capper and his son won their fight.

Yet when Green Philly reached out to Wawa’s spokeswoman, Lori Bruce, about the company’s sustainable initiatives, earlier this month, she said: “In regards to our stirrers, we are pleased to be offering an alternative option to our plastic stirrers through bamboo stirrers.”

When asked if Wawa is planning to phase out the plastic stirrers, Bruce said the convenience store chain is leaving it up to its customers.

“We are hoping our new stirrers provide a choice for customers who want to support more sustainable efforts,” Bruce said. “We plan to give our customers the option to choose while we continue our journey to explore other environmentally friendly viable options.”

Capper, though disappointed, said he hopes Wawa coffee drinkers see this as a call to action.

“I wish they were only using bamboo, but it is better to introduce bamboo as an option than to not. Now it is up to the customers to make the right decision,” Capper said.

What Wawa coffee gets right

While the Delaware County company straddles the fence on stirrers, it has incorporated other sustainable practices when it comes to coffee.

Wawa introduced last month 100 percent sustainably sourced coffee, it offers discounts when you BYOC, and it promotes reusable retail bags and stainless steel refillable mugs on its website.

Bruce also said Wawa announced on the back-end of 2019 its solar power installation plans for dozens of N.J. stores. Wawa is partnering with SolareAmerica to “install solar canopies on 90 of our fuel stores throughout New Jersey.”

“The partnership will generate over 10kWh and reduce 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually,” according to SolareAmerica’s webpage.


Photo by Julie Hancher / A coffee station in a Wawa in Philadelphia has plastic and bamboo options.

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Jamie McClelland
Jamie is a junior at Villanova University double majoring in English and Communications with a specialization in Media Production. She is currently an Editorial Intern at Green Philly. In her spare time she enjoys writing poetry and short stories, along with watching movies and exploring Philly. View all posts by Jamie McClelland

2 thoughts on “Wawa coffee stirrers go sustainable …sorta

  1. The problem isn’t bamboo vs plastic, the problem is hygiene. I want to be sustainable at Wawa, but I go right for the wrapped straws to stir. Do you have any idea how many disgusting gross hands have fingered through both the unwrapped wooden AND plastic stirrers? Recyclable paper-wrapped bamboo stirrers and I’m in.

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