Starbucks Babysteps Into the Reusable Cup World With Their “Borrow a Cup” Program

A program to reuse coffee cups isn’t cutting edge or even very impactful on its own. But if the company piloting that program is Starbucks, it becomes a lot more impactful, indeed. By their own estimation, Starbucks serves 6 BILLION cups annually, with nearly all of them being thrown in the trash after a single use.  This makes up about 1% of all single use cups globally.

Understanding that this needs to change, and starting this month as part of an extended Earth Day, Starbucks is piloting a program to have customers reuse their cups, with drop stations, and a $1 deposit system. The upgraded, reusable cups will then be sanitized before put back into circulation.

From Starbucks:

The Starbucks cup is iconic. And while technically, Starbucks cups can be recycled under the right circumstances, they can only be used once. We know that needs to change.

“Promoting reusability is an important part of Starbucks goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030,” said Michael Kobori, Starbucks Chief Sustainability Officer. “We understand the interdependency of human and planetary Health, and we believe it is our responsibility to reduce single use cup waste.  We will lead the transition to a circular economy.”


We’re pleased to see a company as huge as Starbucks take this on, but are disappointed to hear it’s just a five store trial in the Seattle area to start.

We’d love to start seeing businesses worldwide begin phasing out single use cups altogether, as we know how wasteful they are.

Read more on the Starbucks newsroom page.