Starbucks Merges Consumer Convenience With Sustainability: Visitors Can Reuse Cups Across All Visits

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
Starbucks Reusable Cup

Starbucks is merging its sustainability initiatives with ongoing goals to meet consumers where they are, whether that is at the drive-thru, in stores, or on the app. Customers can now use their reusable cups, no matter how they shop at Starbucks.

Beginning this week, Starbucks is allowing consumers to re-use their own clean, personal cups across all visits at company-operated stores and participating licensed stores in the U.S. and Canada. This includes drive-thru, the cafe, and orders placed through the mobile app. 

This initiative is helping Starbucks move closer to its goal of reducing waste by 50% by 2030, ensuring less cups end up in landfills. The company purports it is the first national coffeehouse in the U.S. to offer this option when mobile ordering, and the first in Canada to offer this option for all drinks and sizes via mobile. 

The company said it is looking to move away from single-use plastics while keeping the experience convenient for customers. 

Michael Kobori, Starbucks chief sustainability officer, said Starbucks is envisioning a future where every beverage can be served in a reusable cup.

“Offering customers more options to use a personal cup when they visit Starbucks marks tangible progress towards the future,” said Kobori. “We know our customers are passionate about the planet, and now, they can join us in our efforts to give more than we take, no matter how they order.” 

Within stores, customers can simply let the barista know they have their own cup when placing the order. If orders are being placed on the app, consumers can go through the Customization settings to alert baristas that they’ll be providing their own cup. Similarly, via drive-thru, consumers can alert the barista when placing their order, and the cup will be transferred via a hygienic, contactless vessel upon arriving at the pickup window. 

The company said the initiative is a result of a successful test-and-learn approach launched at the Starbucks Tryer Innovation Lab and then piloted at 200 drive-thru stores across Colorado last Spring. 

Starbucks is a founding member of the NextGen Consortium, which looks to reduce package waste and advance a waste-free world. Kate Daly, managing director and head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, referenced the relationship, stating that the most reusable cup is “likely the one you already own.”

"Bringing your own cup to stores is a critical step toward reducing single-use packaging waste. Starbucks is a leader in this work, as the first national retailer of scale to offer personal cup ordering in every channel, including mobile order,” said Daly.

These efforts tie into Starbucks’ larger reinvention strategy, which includes introducing new efficiencies and elevating productivity with a focus on sustainability. 

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