Starbucks will be accepting personal cups for most orders, effectively immediately, in an effort to reduce the massive amount of waste produced by their iconic cups.
The company will be the first coffeehouse chain to accept reusable cups for both mobile and drive-thru orders.
For mobile orders, a new ‘personal cup’ option has been added to the Starbucks app under ‘customization’. Once the customer places an order, they will be able to give their personal cup to a barista in the pickup area, who will make and pour the beverage into the cup and give it back to the customer via a ‘contactless’ mug.
For drive-thru orders, the customer will have to let the barista know that they will be using their own personal cup so that they will collect it at the second window using a ‘contactless vessel’ to ensure safety and hygiene.
The personal cup just has to meet two requirements – it must be washed and cleaned and smaller than 40 ounces.
The new change is a huge expansion for the company since app and drive-thru orders make up nearly 70 percent of all sales in the U.S., since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starbucks’s traditional cups are made of both paper and plastic, which makes them hard to recycle. That’s why they came up with other ways to lower its waste output, with their ultimate goal being a 50 percent reduction by 2030.
Every time a customer uses a personal cup for their drink, they will also receive a 10-cent discount and if they are part of the company’s rewards program, they will get an extra 25 stars.
However, the new program will not be available for beverages ordered through delivery apps such as Uber Eats and DoorDash.
Other Sustainability Ideas
Previously, the company experimented with a borrow-a-cup system, in which a customer gets a durable cup in exchange for a deposit, which they can then take and return after use.
This system was tested in a Seattle location in 2021, where customers had to pay a $1 deposit for a recyclable cup, which would then have to be returned to the store’s smart bin. Similar pilot programs were also conducted in the U.K., Singapore, and Japan.
For many years, the company has wanted to expand its reusable cup program, however, they also noted that it may change the taste and flavor of certain drinks with many ingredients.
To fix that issue, the customer must let the staff know the size that they would like and the beverage will be prepared in a custom container before it’s added to the reusable cup.