Starbucks rolls out re-usable cup option in move to cut waste

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Starbucks is rolling out a greener beverage option, but it won’t come in the company’s classic green-and-white cups. 

Starting Wednesday, drive-thru customers and those who place orders through the coffee chain’s mobile app can bring their own cups, an effort to cut down on waste, the company said Wednesday. The only requirement is that cups must be clean. 

“Offering customers more options to use a personal cup when they visit Starbucks marks tangible progress towards the future,” Starbucks Chief Sustainability Officer Michael Kobori said in a statement. 

Starbucks said customers should inform employees at their local drive-thru that they have brought their own cup. A barista will then collect the cup at the pickup window using a “contactless vessel” and return the cup with the customer’s beverage of choice in the same way “to ensure hygiene and safety,” according to Starbucks. 

Customers can receive a 10 cent discount or 25 Starbucks Rewards Bonus Stars at participating stores each time they fill up using their own cup. 

Starbuck, which has long allowed dine-in customers to use their own cups, has said it wants to halve its waste production by 2030. 

Until now, Starbucks drive-thrus have served drinks in cups made of paper and plastic, which are difficult to recycle, according to the company. An estimated 50 billion cups in the U.S. end up in landfills every year, while less than 1% of domestic paper recycling mills can process plastic-coated cups, according to chemical manufacturer BASF. 

Elizabeth Napolitano

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Elizabeth Napolitano is a freelance reporter at CBS MoneyWatch, where she covers business and technology news. She also writes for CoinDesk. Before joining CBS, she interned at NBC News’ BizTech Unit and worked on the Associated Press’ web scraping team.

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