Starbucks Will Start Phasing Out Disposable Cups & Testing Borrow-A-Cup Program

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collection of starbucks cups lined up on a countertop

Starbucks is brewing up a new plan to help the environment!

On its mission to become more sustainable, Starbucks plans to drastically decrease the use of their disposable cups – yes, the same cups that we look forward to seeing different designs of every holiday season.

While recycling their signature cups is better than littering, it’s still not the best eco-friendly option, as they usually end up in landfills.

According to CNN, Starbucks hopes customers will be bringing their own cups from home or borrow reusable cups through a Borrow-A-Cup Program by 2025. The company is currently testing out different models of a borrowing program across stores worldwide, and while testing a beta program in Seattle, they received a positive response from customers.

new starbucks cups in store

In this program, customers paid a $1 deposit to borrow a reusable cup in-store and got their money back after dropping it back off. One perk customers loved was earning rewards for taking part in the program!

“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.” — Amelia Landers, Vice President of Product Experience

a collection of iridescent starbucks tumblers

Starbucks will still have plastic and paper cups available, but the end goal is to completely eliminate them. A few other solutions they’ve considered are charging customers a disposable cup fee, and offering up to a 50¢ incentive for bringing their own cups in-store or the drive-thru.

Want to get a head start on their sustainable plan? Consider grabbing one of their new cups and tumblers that use 50% recycled plastic! There are a ton of beautiful designs available that are perfect for springtime, too!

Are you playing the latest Starbucks Game to win free drinks, gift cards & more?

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Comments 24

  1. Alaina

    I think it’s interesting that they’re doing this right after they practically banned using your own cup during COVID. The Starbucks on campus at the hospital where I work (yes, it’s a true Starbucks and not just a licensed location) still doesn’t allow for using reusable cups, so I’m curious what they’ll do for those.

  2. siena95

    There cold drinks in plastic are the culprit..they need to get in on the cutting edge of biodegradable plastics made of algae or other substance that breaks down. If their hot drinks are in paper, they will decompose and are no issue. I hate all the plastics…they end up on the beaches in Hawaii which I dubbed plastic beach…in Maui….was all caught in daughters hair upon exit from ocean

    • JennD

      I have to say when hiking to the “green beach” on the Big Island, we saw so much plastic on the shores. This was right after our local zoo had an exhibit from an organization that made animals from washed up plastic. When looking at the sculptures at the zoo, it was hard to believe plastics actually ended up looking like that– then we saw it with our own eyes.

    • Emily

      Not to be a debbie downer, but the infrastructure in a lot of places isn’t set up for organics recycling. If you’re not in an urban area, “Biodegradable Plastics” are actually just trash destined for the landfill.

  3. Amy Maclean

    How would this work with mobile orders? That’s my favorite thing about Starbucks.

    • jrosie

      Me too!!! Maybe you can do a “trade in” or something.

    • seesamtri

      I agree. Mobile order is my go to. At work there usually is a Starbucks run that includes anywhere from 3 to 6 orders for pickup. Pretty sure my Starbucks consumption will be sadly decreased.

  4. Lucy

    Raise the prices, then offer a .10 to .50 discount program by their customers bringing in their own cups. Wonder how that will pan out with the newest variant coming out….

  5. GAmommyof4

    How are they going to charge “size”prices if you bring your own cup? Cups are not standard sizes, plus I don’t always carry around a cup and sometimes on a whim I like to treat myself to Starbucks drive-thru. This might be the end of my Starbucks consumption.

    • Steph Steph

      I agree, it will be the end of mine for sure.

  6. Amie

    My question is who is washing all of the turned in cups? Maybe I’m reading the info wrong but it sounds like you get a plastic cup for $1 then when you are done with your dirty drink cup you return it to Starbucks and get your $1 back. I’m not sure the baristas handling dirty used cups would work. Again maybe I’m understanding this all wrong.

    • Maria

      I was thinking the same…and will they reuse the cups? Will all Starbucks get commercial dishwashers to sanitize the cups for reuse?

  7. Kate

    Lol…. None of this makes much of a difference when the major percentage of pollution is coming from China and other major territories… we in the US can’t save the planet alone. Especially with the landfills completely overrun with masks now…I understand the effort but after their latest price hike I was already gone. This just seems like another hassle to me.

    • JustCallMeCoco

      Seems you’re the only one talking politics. She said nothing political and had everything to do with the reusable cup issues based on her knowledge of what does and doesn’t make sense. 🤷‍♀️ she also stated a couple of facts, but no opinion on those facts.

  8. Maria

    I wonder if Starbucks either start charging or stop giving away “cup of water” or “cup of ice” for free, they would reduce the amount of plastic! And how often do we see them throw out cups because they didn’t make the coffee correctly?

    • Jenny

      In NYC they can’t stop giving away water unless they have a water fountain which most existing Starbucks don’t have.

  9. Kim

    This is frustrating to me, as I only do mobile orders since Starbucks is so busy. So now I’m going to have to pay more to do this? Or find time to take the cup back after I use it? And stand in line to do it? I get where they are coming from, but this is not the way to go about it.

  10. Ariavenew

    The food service company at my office has a program for to-go lunch containers which sounds really similar. At first it seemed like it was going to be an extra hassle to return used containers, but after about one try it became easy and obviously it saves a lot of plastic production which I’m all for. I’m eager to see this expanded. Great idea and a brave first step on the part of Starbucks. Reminds me of when I was a kid and we returned our empty glass soda bottles for the refund at the grocery store. We just forget that this used to be quite normal!!!

  11. James

    My Starbucks consumption went nearly zero after they started charging $4+ for a Trenta Black Iced Tea (no additions) I’m using leftover stars till they’re gone, then that’s it.

  12. Janne

    I am concerned about the hygiene issues associated with this. When I was a younger And worked in food and beverage we were constantly warned by employer about not handling Used Glasses and cups. Not convinced I would go to Starbucks if this is implemented.

  13. MelC

    This is very progressive and I love it. All the questions and concerns that customers might have about how things will function with this new initiative…..believe that Starbucks has already thought about it and has answers and solutions in place. Change can feel overwhelming because we are creatures of habit. But these types of changes are ones we need to be open too. Next I want to see other stores/manufacturers supporting options to reuse containers for purchasing laundry detergent, liquid soap and other household and personal care items. There is no reason we can’t buy lots of items by the ounce using our own containers instead of being required to purchase another plastic jug or bottle to get the product inside of it.

  14. lindsay23

    They are constantly changing the cups, straws, lids etc. I don’t mind innovation and sustainability for the environment. But, It would be nice if they picked something and stuck with it and are more consistent. I prefer Dunkin over Starbucks anyway.

  15. mrswagley

    I don’t like being the negative one but this is just an awful idea.

  16. Germaine

    They should stop the amount of cups the give out for ice we have a customer that gets 4 venti cups of ice with no purchase every day.or would about the customer that wants a 12 oz coffee with a 8oz cup of cream

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