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Starbucks Coffee logo is seen on cups at the cafe in Krakow, Poland on February 14, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Starbucks Coffee logo is seen on cups at the cafe in Krakow, Poland on February 14, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Starbucks is phasing out its single-use cups

The multinational coffee chain is aiming to be completely reusable by 2025.

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Starbucks is trying to cut down on its waste by going reusable. In doing so, it is attempting to phase single-use cups out by the end of 2023 for the U.S. and Canada, and by 2025 globally. This includes using reusable cups for drive-thru and mobile orders.

Starbucks goes through seven billion single-use cups every year, worldwide. The company’s goal is to halve its waste and carbon emissions from its direct operations by 2030. Single-use lids and cups make up 40% of the company’s packaging waste. 

Currently, the company is running multiple iterations of tests in eight markets to see what the best way to implement this change may be. One of the tests will determine how to run its drive-thru and mobile orders in a way that’s both time effective and works well for employees. This is important because according to CFO Rachel Ruggeri, drive-thru and mobile orders combined are around 70% of sales at stores in the U.S. 

Another one of the tests will be offering a 10-cent fee for the single-use cups and a 50-cent discount for reusable cups. This could offset some of the cost of alternative milk options for customers. 

In addition to testing in the U.S., Starbucks is also testing in the U.K., South Korea, Singapore, and Japan. Stores on Jeju Island, South Korea will allow customers to borrow a reusable cup before returning it. 

This isn’t the first time Starbucks has wanted to get customers to use reusable cups more often. In 2008, it set the goal of having a quarter of its customers using reusable cups by 2015. It did not reach that goal. The goal was reduced to 5% in 2011 after the company realized that the number of reusable cups used had only gone up by 1.9%

They had more success in Germany in 2019. Starbucks had a two-month trial at stores in Berlin and Hamburg to see if a 5-cent charge would lead to more people using reusable cups. Reusable cup use doubled from 2.5% to 6%. In 2020, the company expanded this policy to all of its stores in Germany.  

Before announcing that he would be stepping down as president and CEO, Kevin Johnson said of the initiative, “Starbucks partners around the world are passionate about protecting our planet and are at the very center of driving the innovation that enables us to give more than we take from the planet.

Starbucks already purchases Fair Trade coffee from more than 400,000 farmers in 30 countries worldwide, and this packaging change is the latest development in the coffee supply chain’s goal of reimagining the pathway toward a sustainable future for coffee. 

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