Starbucks plans to phase out disposable cups, encourages customers to bring their own cup

Have you ever thought about taking your own coffee mug to Starbucks for your morning cup of coffee? Well, soon you might have to.

Starbucks said in a press release on Mar. 15, that the company’s goal is to reduce waste sent to landfill from stores and direct operations.

By the end of next year, the company said customers will be able to use their own personal reusable cup for every Starbucks visit in the U.S. and Canada – including in cafe, drive-thru and mobile order and pay.

The coffee-giant is “shifting away” from single-use plastics, promoting reusability and championing the use of recycled content, driven by a broader shift towards a circular economy.

To help make reusables convenient for customers, Starbucks is testing multiple reusable programs and operating models:

  • Borrow A Cup: Customers order their drink in a designated Starbucks reusable cup, designed to be returned to stores, professionally cleaned, and reused by other Starbucks customers. This was previously tested in Seattle last year and we currently have live pilots in JapanSingapore and London. Each program is intentionally different (even the name!) to help us find the best possible operational model globally.
  • 100% Reusable Operating Models: In this program, single-use cups are eliminated entirely, in favor of reusables, personal cups or for-here-ware. We tested this at four stores in Jeju, South Korea and recently expanded this an additional 12 stores in Seoul. The test in Jeju diverted an estimated 200,000 disposable cups from landfills in the first three months.
  • Personal Cups & For-Here-Ware: Encouraging customers to bring their own cup and emphasizing Starbucks provided for-here-ware as the default sit-and-stay experience. We’re testing a 100% for-here-ware program at our experiential Greener Store in Shanghai.

Store manager Kim Davis led one of the first stores to test Borrow a Cup in the U.S.

“Customers were just so excited to try something new and my partners had a lot of pride in testing it and giving that feedback to make the program even better,” said Kim Davis, store manager. “I do think that everyone really does want to contribute to a better world, and if we can help them do that one cup at a time, that is our mission right there.”  

Starbucks said its goal by 2025 is to create a cultural movement towards reusables by giving customers easy access to a personal or Starbucks provided reusable cup for every visit making it convenient to reuse wherever customers are enjoying their Starbucks Experience.

“Upping the recycled content of our hot cups is a long-time commitment and an area where we can continue to lead. We are working on doubling the hot cup recycled content, and reducing the material used to make the cup and liner. The virgin paper used in our hot cup will be sustainably sourced and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. ” 

This new cup should be rolling out in Fall 2022 and in all US markets by the end of 2024.