Starbucks to allow reusable cups again after 15-month break amid COVID
You can soon bring your reusable cups back to Starbucks.
The coffee giant announced Tuesday that starting June 22 company-operated stores in the U.S. are “safely reintroducing personal reusable cups.”
The move comes more than 15 months after Starbucks temporarily restricted personal mugs in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
“Bringing back personal reusable cups is key part of Starbucks' ongoing commitment to reduce single-use cup waste and goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030,” the company said in a statement.
But the return of mugs comes with some changes. They will not be accepted at restaurant drive-thrus initially.
Save better, spend better: Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here
Only clean cups will be accepted in store, and baristas will not clean them for customers.
Starbucks said it held “extensive trials and has adopted this new process, using a ceramic mug to transport the reusable cup through the bar" in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific in order to "reintroduce reusable cups with confidence.” It is testing options for drive-thrus.
The chain made masks optional for fully vaccinated customers May 17, except where local or state regulations mandate them. The update came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new masking guidelines last month.
Target Circle guide:How to save, get deals and earn cash back with Target's free loyalty program
Amazon Prime Day 2021:Sale set for June 21-22 with some early deals available, plus how to get a $10 credit
Until the pandemic and since the 1980s, Starbucks says it has offered customers a discount for using their own cups or the restaurant's reusable “For Here Ware” when dining in.
Starbucks said Tuesday it will bring back the 10-cent reusable cup discount to “encourage customers to choose reusable and reduce single-use cup waste.” It also will reinstate “For Here Ware" for in-store customers where indoor dining is available.
Starbucks BYOC: How it works
- A barista will check the cleanliness of your cup and you will hold onto the lid. (Note: Baristas will not clean dirty cups.)
- The personal reusable cup is placed in a ceramic mug and transported through Starbucks’ bar.
- The company says beverages are made contact free.
- At the handoff location, the customer picks up their cup and puts the lid on.
Sustainable coffee cup
Before COVID, Starbucks said 80% of beverages were ordered to go, but the majority were “served in single-use cups, with only a small amount being recycled or composted due to waste processing infrastructure limitations.”
The company has been working toward a more sustainable cup for years, and in 2018, along with McDonald’s, committed $10 million in partnership with Closed Loop Partners to establish the NextGen Consortium and Cup Challenge. Starbucks also has been doing research and testing solutions to make cups, lids and straws easier to recycle and compost.
In April, Starbucks launched the “Borrow A Cup” trial program in five Seattle stores, which allowed customers to order their beverages in a reusable cup for a $1 deposit. Once they returned the cup, they got the $1 back and 10 rewards points through the chain’s loyalty program.
The program ran through May 31 and officials told USA TODAY that the company was “taking learnings from the pilot to adapt the program and continue to evolve it for the future.”
Last week, Starbucks announced it will offer a reusable cup-share program in all Europe, Middle East and Africa stores by 2025. In July, Starbucks South Korea will launch Borrow a Cup program in stores and recently committed to eliminating single-use cups by 2025.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For more shopping tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group.