Starbucks introduces $1 reusable cup to cut down on waste
January 3rd, 2013
01:45 PM ET
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Starting Thursday, Starbucks customers will have the option to save their planet - and their wallets - a dime at a time. The coffee giant is offering $1 plastic cups, which can be reused for drink purchases at a discount of ten cents.

Jim Hanna, the director of environmental affairs at Starbucks, told USA Today that while the company has sold reusable tumblers for some time and offered the ten cent discount, he expects that the modest price of its new one, available at company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada, will encourage consumers to take action more frequently. The new effort comes largely in response to consumer criticism over the volume of paper coffee cup waste - approximately 4 billion cups globally each year - generated by Starbucks.

The responsibility section of Starbucks' website details the company's efforts to work with vendors and local authorities to get more of its paper cups recycled, and to host recurring "Cup Summits" collaborating on the issue with industry leaders from MIT, Tim Horton’s, Georgia-Pacific and Action Carting Environmental Services. By 2015, Starbucks plans to have front-of-store recycling in all its company-owned locations.

According to a 2011 report issued by Starbucks, that year, customers used personal tumblers more than 34 million times - nearly 2% of all beverages served in global company-owned stores. While this represented a 55% increase in personal tumbler use from 2008's tally, Starbucks admitted to challenges in tracking cup use both in and away from their stores, and reduced the company's goal of 25% reusable cups by 2015 to 5%.

The reusable cups are made in China, and have fill lines inside denoting "tall," "grande" and "venti"-sized drinks. The cups will be rinsed with boiling water by Starbucks employees before they're refilled, reducing the risk of cross-contamination, but at least one more challenge remains: will customers actually remember to bring them into the store?

soundoff (552 Responses)
  1. Kimberly

    I'm surprised Starbucks purchased the "Green" Cups all the way from China!! That doesn't seem "green" to me!

    March 15, 2014 at 10:52 pm |
  2. Priya

    Paper cup recycling is available but most of the starbucks does not use it. So paper companies provide the recycling facility to their customers.

    October 30, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  3. Tom

    Better still make your own bloody coffee in the morning, that way starbucks will have no waste.

    July 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  4. Georgiana

    Know how to have free coffee in starbucks

    February 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  5. Chelle

    Got my first and ONLY $1 reusable Starbucks cup. I don't understand how it's going to significantly cut down on waste when you still need a sleeve for hot beverages. It was much cheaper than I expected, even for a $1 cup, and there's no incentive to use their cup when I can bring my own, nice cup from home and get the same 10 cents off. It certainly looks and performs like a cheap, China made product! Other companies, like Dunkin', offer MUCH nicer cups and MUCH nicer incentives to reuse their cups. Maybe Starbucks should have taken a lesson from them.

    January 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Sam

      You could buy a reusable sleeve. I'm not positive if they sell them at Starbucks all the time, but you can find some really nice cloth ones! :)

      April 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  6. Joe Rockbottom

    Don't go to starbucks at all. They support gun fanantics by allowing the open-carry nutjobs to congregate in their stores with their guns.

    Boycott starbucks.

    Peet's, on the otherhand is a courageous fighter against gun fanatics and does not allow guns in their stores. Buy Peet's.

    January 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Harriette

      Gun fanatics. . . . hmm . . . who do you want walking around with a gun? A responsible. adult owner, trained and ready to defend herself and/or you, (and your children), when the nut-job who doesn't give a crap about the legality of carrying the gun or shooting you with it arrives OR JUST the nut-job? Use your brain.

      Starbucks rocks – BTW, people carry everywhere – you just don't know it . . . because they are abiding the law by CONCEALING.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • Harriette

        If you live in an open carry state, then get the law changed if you don't like it. In fact, in many open carry states those responsible gun owners would be BREAKING the law by concealing.

        January 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • ken86turbo

      Starbucks earned my business, see you on 2/22 ! You can stay home Joe Rockbottom and watch Piers Morgan.

      February 22, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  7. TruthMatters

    Umm can't the papercups they already have be recycled? What's wrong with coffee stained paper? At least the paper cups can decompose. All this is gonna do is create billions of plastic cups that will fill landfills for a longer period of time. It's just a way for Starbucks to make another buck off of you. If the papercups cant be recycled for whatever reason, i.e. access to recylcing facilities in certain countries or coffee stains, then the better thing to do is for Starbucks to invest in opening recycling centres that can recylce their papercups.

    January 7, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  8. Jim

    Good grief! Just make your own coffee at home and bring it an your lunch to work like I did for 40 years. You'll have more money left at the end of that time if you do. Only go out to lunch on Friday like me and my cohorts did. You'll be amazed at how much you can save.

    January 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  9. Chollaberry

    This is the best they could do?

    January 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  10. DaveMartines

    The first time you forget your re-usable cup to save a dime, the whole scheme crashes and your down a buck. Dumbest idea ever.

    January 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Miguel

      Um – how's that, Dave? Does the cup, sitting at home, magically catch fire, preventing you from saving a dime the next day, and every day after that? (By the way: it's "you're"down," not "your down.")

      January 7, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Dave's not here

      January 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  11. AKatora

    Made in China, really? NO THANKS.

    January 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Donna

      So wait, you are seriously going to tell me that every single item you own or use is NOT made in China, the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the car you drive, the bus you ride on. None of them have components made anywhere other than the good ol' US of A???? Get over yourself.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  12. cyndy

    I'm going to get one, but probably forget to wash it before bring it back.

    January 6, 2013 at 1:39 am |
  13. Jack Smythe

    Oh goody. That $7 Starbuck latté will now cost $6.90 if I bring my own reusable cup (bought for $1). They are reeking of generosity.

    January 5, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • sue smith


      January 6, 2013 at 1:02 am |
      • imuneek

        Good point. Bring your own BPA-free mug, take the discount, save the planet and your health. At base, it is a great idea and I applaud Starbucks for trying to cut down on waste.

        January 6, 2013 at 8:58 am |
      • Miguel

        Sue: how certain are you that the Starbucks cups aren't BPA free?

        January 7, 2013 at 1:04 am |
      • Renee

        A scientific study has proven conclusively that BPA is safe. Learn more:

        January 7, 2013 at 9:38 am |
        • cb

          You don't know what you are talking about. The earth is flat and there are people who also believe that.

          January 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  14. AMP

    I dont want another damn thing made in China.

    I like a paper cup.

    If Starbucks really wanted to recyle, they could give us a dime for the old paper cup, made in the f ucking USA . Thanks for playing!!!

    I will be first in line for the Apple products made in the USA. Hike up the price and lets get this tech economy rolling in the US.

    January 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  15. empresstrudy

    Just let me use MY OWN mug.

    January 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Sky

      We've implemented this pretty well at the coffee show I'm at. In order to encourage people to help cut down on cup waste, we give them a discount on the coffee if they bring in their own cup. Saves us having to sell them one, which saves us having to buy them to give to people which then means we can reduce the cost of the coffee to the consumer.

      January 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Miguel

      You CAN use your own mug at Starbucks, and you get a discount for it.

      January 7, 2013 at 1:04 am |
  16. Dechen Wangmo

    Stop it Starbucks!!! We dont need more Made in China Plastics in the name of environment Conscience. WE are not STUPIT or atleast Not I.

    January 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Bob

      Oh, the irony of someone saying they are not "STUPIT."

      January 6, 2013 at 8:21 am |
      • crs

        Dearest Bob,
        You just made yourself look MOORANIC.

        January 6, 2013 at 11:59 am |
        • Irony


          January 7, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Donna

      Actually, yes you are.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
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