Starbucks drains over 23.4 million litres of water down the drains of 10,000 outlets worldwide due to a policy of keeping a tap running non-stop. It is enough daily water for the entire 2 million population of Namibia in Africa.

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Environmental campaigners have attacked Starbucks after the discovery that millions of litres of water are wasted in its coffee shops every day, contradicting its much-boasted green credentials. A single Starbucks tap left running for just over three minutes wastes the amount of water one African needs to survive for a day in drought conditions. Under the company's health and safety rules, staff are banned from turning the water off because management claim that a constant flow of water prevents germs breeding in taps. Even a slow tap flows three litres of water a minute, meaning Starbucks in the UK is wasting an estimated 1.63m litres a day - enough to supply Matlock village in Derbyshire.

The running water policy was revealed after a Starbucks executive wrote back to a couple who complained about the tap at their local branch. "Jacob Tompkins, of the independent water efficiency agency Water Wise, said:"If they are doing all their basic cleaning procedures, I fail to see why they would need to do this. Ian Barker, the head of water resources at the Environment Agency, said: "We are already taking too much water from the environment and are seeing reduced river flows." A spokeswoman for Starbucks said that the company's water use adhered to the World Health Organisation, US and EU environmental directives for in-store water supply standards.

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