World Coffee Portal research finds US branded coffee chain operators are prioritising reusable cup use to reduce reliance on disposable cups – but only half of US consumers surveyed believe that coffee shops have been effective in their efforts to reduce plastic waste
Starbucks is working towards enabling customers across the US to use their own reusable cup for every visit by the end of 2023 | Photo credit: Starbucks
US coffee chains are refocusing efforts to reduce cup and packaging waste after many paused sustainability initiatives during the pandemic.
World Coffee Portal's Project Café USA 2022
report identified recycling, incentivising reusable cup use and reducing reliance on disposable cups topped the sustainability agenda for many US operators over the last 12 months.
31% of industry leaders surveyed by World Coffee Portal said the US coffee shop market should be proud of its sustainability efforts, 14% higher than pre-pandemic.
Coffee businesses across the US indicate they are prepared to widen the scope of their environmental initiatives; however most surveyed (59%) believe implementation will come at the expense of profits.
However, indicating more work to improve re-use and recycling infrastructure is needed, just half of US consumers surveyed in Project Café USA 2023 believe that coffee shops have been effective in their attempts to reduce plastic waste.
Nevertheless, 53% of US consumers surveyed said they regularly recycle takeaway cups – 7% fewer than in 2020.
US coffee chain market leader Starbucks is working towards enabling customers across the US and Canada, where it operates approximately 17,000 stores, to use their own reusable cup for every visit by the end of 2023.
Meanwhile, Peet’s Coffee has pledged to introduce 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging by 2025.
The JAB Holding-controlled company began accepting reusable cups in-store in May 2021 following a pandemic-mandated pause and has also introduced compostable disposable cups and lids across its 200+ US stores.
While reducing disposable cup usage is a clear focus for operators and consumers alike, just 11% of industry leaders surveyed indicated that carbon neutrality pledges should be more widely adopted by US coffee shops.
World Coffee Portal’s Project Café USA 2023 report reveals that the $45.8bn branded US coffee shop market has now regained 96% of its pre-pandemic value.
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