| US

Starbucks extends reusable cup policy to drive-thru and pick-up in North America

Starbucks has taken a significant step to reduce waste by allowing customers in the US and Canada to use personal cups at drive-thrus and mobile orders

Baristas will prepare beverages in a separate vessel before transferring to the customer’s personal cup | Starbucks

Rolled out at all company-operated stores in the US and Canada and available across its full range hot, iced and blended beverages, the move will enable Starbucks staff to collect customers’ reusable cups at a drive-thru pickup window using a ‘contactless vessel’ to ensure hygiene.  

Baristas then prepare beverages in a separate vessel before transferring to the customer’s personal cup to avoid direct handling. In a press release, Starbucks said it would not be able to rinse personal cups nor accept dirty containers.  

The change also means mobile pre-orders can be customised to include ‘Personal Cup’ use using the same collection, production and return process at the in-store pickup area. 

Starbucks has conducted reusable cup trials in more than 25 markets globally, including at 200 drive-thru stores in Colorado in April 2023.   

“As long as we are following all our procedures and steps, it doesn’t add any more time, and it is actually making customers happier,” said Brook, a Starbucks barista who worked at one of the Colorado trial stores, allaying potential concerns over staff having to deal with a more complicated serving process. 

With the majority of its beverages enjoyed on-the-go, Starbucks’ expanded reusable cup policy advances the chain’s global commitment to reduce waste by 50% by 2030, it said in a press release.  

The move also means Starbucks has achieved its goal of enabling customers at all company-owned stores in the US and Canada to use their own reusable cup for every visit by the end of 2023. 

“At Starbucks, we envision a future where every beverage can be served in a reusable cup. Offering customers more options to use a personal cup when they visit Starbucks marks tangible progress towards the future. We know our customers are passionate about the planet, and now, they can join us in our efforts to give more than we take, no matter how they order,” said Michael Kobori, Chief Sustainability Officer, Starbucks. 

In March 2022, Starbucks outlined new initiatives to help reduce waste and carbon emissions across its global portfolio of stores, including a ‘shift away’ from single-use plastics and piloting reusable cup programs in six markets around the world. This has included a Cup-Share scheme in the UK, France and Germany and a Borrow A Cup scheme in Taiwan

In December 2023, Starbucks Korea said reusable cups were used a record 26.7 million times across its stores in the first 11 months of last year – a 7% increase on 2022 and 53% higher than in 2020. 

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