Starbucks launches reusable cup program — here’s how it works

By KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(SEATTLE) — Starbucks’ latest initiative is a simple concept to help reduce single-use plastic — simply order, sip, return and repeat.

The coffee chain announced a new two-month borrow-and-return trial program launching at five Seattle store locations that will allow customers to order a beverage in a reusable cup, which will replace the use of up to 30 disposable cups.

Starbucks partnered with Ridwell, a Seattle-based recycling service, to offer customers an at-home option to return their borrowed cup.

Michael Kobori, Starbucks’ chief sustainability officer, explained in a press release that this will bolster their efforts in a commitment to promote reusability.

“We understand the interdependency of human and planetary health, and we believe it is our responsibility to reduce single-use cup waste,” he said. “We will lead the transition to a circular economy.”

This program marks the latest step in the company’s target goal to reduce 50% of waste and single-use cups sent to landfills by 2030.

How it works

1. Order your beverage in a reusable cup and pay a deposit.

Customers can order any beverage that will come in the newly designed reusable cup in-person at a participating Starbucks café or drive-thru. If a customer wants their drink in a reusable cup, they tell the barista and pay a $1 refundable deposit.

2. Return the cup and receive a credit and bonus stars.

After the customer is finished with the drink, they scan their cup at a contactless return kiosk, which will be located in the lobby or drive-thru at participating locations, and drop the cup in the designated opening. After that, simply scan their Starbucks App to have the $1 credit and 10 Bonus Stars applied to their account.

3. Each cup is professionally cleaned and sanitized.

Starbucks has partnered with GO Box, a reuse system operator and service provider, to collect borrowed cups from stores daily that are then professionally cleaned and sanitized with commercial-grade dishwashing equipment, and put back into circulation within 48 hours.

The new pilot effort and sanitizing standards are done in addition to the coffee chain’s cleaning protocols that follow public health guidelines to help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the company said.

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