Starbucks is looking to phase out disposable cups with reusable cups and cup borrowing programs


Starbucks hopes to phase out its signature cups with replacements like reusable cups and a borrow cup program.

Although their cups are easily recognizable, from holiday designs to clear plastic cups for cold drinks, the company hopes to move towards a more sustainable solution.

“Our cup is ubiquitous, and we love it,” says Starbucks chief sustainability officer Michael Kobori, according to CNN Business. “But it’s also this ubiquitous symbol of a disposable society.” He goes on to say that the best solution is to “eliminate the disposable cup”.

By 2025, Starbucks wants every customer to be able to easily use their own cup or borrow a ceramic or reusable take-out cup. Part of this process could involve new cup loan programs that require a deposit. This would see customers pay a deposit for a durable mug which they take with them and then return after use. VP of Product Experience Amelia Landers says she can see this program being more successful than other sustainability efforts.

Learn more about the Starbucks Cup Borrowing Program:

“I think it will take the lead,” says Landers. “We are testing several [borrow-a-cup] programs around the world.

In fact, Starbucks beta tested a cup borrowing program last year. For the test, customers paid a $1 deposit and then had to put the cup back in an on-site smart trash can to get their dollar back. Additionally, customers would earn rewards for using a reusable cup.

“We developed a new cup that had a very low environmental footprint, was made of lightweight polypropylene, was eventually recyclable and could replace 100 single-use disposable cups,” adds Landers.

By the end of next year, Starbucks plans to let customers use their own personal cups. This will be available in all locations in the United States and Canada, even if a customer pre-orders or uses the drive-thru.

The goals may not mean Starbucks will get rid of its paper and plastic cups, but they hope to encourage customers to stop using them.

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