Starbucks wastes some 6.2 million gallons of water each day through a health policy that requires a constantly running tap at each store, says a breathless indictment in British tabloid The Sun.
A Starbucks spokesperson confirms the use of a dipper well, which uses "a stream of continuous cold fresh-running water to rinse away food residue, help keep utensils clean, and prevent bacterial growth."
Dipper wells are common at coffee and ice-cream shops, but the gigantuousness of Starbucks' global operations is such that, according to the The Sun, the amount of wasted water could sate the thirst of "the entire 2 million-strong population of drought-hit Namibia ... or fill an Olympic pool every 83 minutes."
Starbucks says it is looking into alternatives, which water-efficiency experts say do exist.
"Leaving taps running all day is a shocking waste of precious water," says Peter Robinson of U.K. green group Waste Watch. "And to claim you are doing it for health and safety reasons is bonkers."