Starbucks is planning to trade in its instantly recognizable cups for a more environmentally friendly option.
The coffee company is shifting from single-use plastics and experimenting with reusable cup programs in several markets worldwide.
Customers will be able to use their cups at every Starbucks in the U.S. and Canada — including in-store, drive-thru and mobile orders — by the end of next year, Starbucks said Tuesday.
Currently, individual reusable cups are accepted only in-store.
Making individual cups available at drive-thrus is essential, as the drive-thru business has increased considerably since the pandemic.
Starbucks CFO Rachel Ruggeri said during a February earnings call that drive-thru and mobile orders account for 70% of the company’s sales nationwide.
Starbucks hopes the expansion will help lead a cultural shift toward using reusable materials by giving customers easy access to an individual or store-provided cup for every visit.
The company says it hopes to reduce waste by 50% by 2030.
“We have a bold long-term sustainability vision, and ambitious goals for 2030,” Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson said in a release. “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.”
The company says it hopes that every customer uses their reusable mug or borrows one from their local store.
Starbucks is testing a program in which customers pay a deposit for the reusable cup, take it with them and return it to the store later.
“I think that will take the lead,” Amelia Landers, a vice president of product experience, told CNN. “We are testing a number of different [borrow-a-cup] programs around the globe including 20 different iterations and in eight different markets.”
Starbucks stopped allowing guests to bring reusable cups during the pandemic but resumed the practice in June 2021.
As the company expands the program, it will put extensive health and safety protocols in place, officials said.
When a customer brings in a reusable cup, they place it in a ceramic mug. An employee handles only the ceramic mug, avoiding contact with the individual’s cup. The ceramic mug is washed after each use.
“We held extensive trials of the new operating method in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific, which uses a ceramic mug to transport the reusable cup through the bar, to reintroduce reusable cups with confidence.,” a Starbucks spokesperson told The Washington Times.
Kim Davis, who manages a store that tested the program, said customers gave positive feedback after baristas explained the concept.
“Customers were just so excited to try something new and my partners had a lot of pride in testing it and giving that feedback to make the program even better,” Ms. Davis said. “I do think that everyone does want to contribute to a better world, and if we can help them do that one cup at a time, that is our mission right there.”
Starbucks is testing the program in the United Kingdom, Japan and Singapore, and plans to add more countries this year.