Starbucks announced that it aims to have every customer either use their own personal mug or cup or borrow a reusable cup from their local Starbucks — by 2025.
The company has been testing various programs to determine what will most effectively reduce waste while keeping customers satisfied.
This change will directly contribute to the coffee chain's sustainability goals to conserve water usage by 50 percent and achieve carbon-neutral green coffee.
Waste is an immense issue within the restaurant industry, and Starbucks itself distributes around six billion single-use cups every year, most of which aren’t able to be recycled and end up directly in landfills or the environment.
Starbucks won't get rid of the paper cups entirely, but they do want to make those options less appealing, so to phase out disposables, Starbucks is considering a borrow-a-cup program, where customers will be paying a deposit for a durable cup that they can take with them and then drop back off after use.
Amelia Landers, vice president of product experience whose team is responsible for sustainable packaging at Starbucks, believes that this model will resonate more with customers.
"I think that will take the lead. We are testing a number of different borrow-a-cup programs around the globe, including 20 different iterations, and in eight different markets." – Amelia Landers
Starbucks tested a beta version in Seattle. "We developed a new cup that had a very low environmental footprint, was lightweight polypropylene, ultimately recyclable, and could replace 100 single-use disposable cups," says Landers.
Customers paid a $1 deposit and then returned the cup to a smart bin located in the store to get their dollar back. Customers also earned rewards for using the cup.