Dis­pos­able coffee cups to be ban­ished in Bay Area cafes

Orlando Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Jocelyn Gecker

SAN FRAN­CISCO — A new cafe cul­ture is brewing in the San Fran­cisco area, where a grow­ing num­ber of coffee houses are ban­ish­ing pa­per to-go cups and re­plac­ing them with ev­ery­thing from glass jars to rental mugs and bringy­our-own cup poli­cies.

What started as a small trend among neigh­bor­hood cafes to re­duce waste is gain­ing sup­port from some big names in the city’s food and coffee world.

Cel­e­brated chef Do­minique Crenn, owner of the three-star Miche­lin restau­rant Ate­lier Crenn, is open­ing a San Fran­cisco cafe next year that will have no to-go bags or dis­pos­able coffee cups and will use no plas­tic. Cus­tomers who plan to sip and go at Bou­tique Crenn will be en­cour­aged to bring their own coffee cups, says spokes­woman Kate Bittman.

On a big­ger scale, the Blue Bot­tle cof­fee­house chain, which goes through about 15,000 to-go cups a month at its 70 U.S. lo­ca­tions, says it wants to “show our guests and the world that we can elim­i­nate dis­pos­able cups.”

Blue Bot­tle plans to stop us­ing pa­per cups at two San Fran­cisco area branches in 2020, as part of a pledge to go “zero waste” by the end of next year. Coffee to-go cus­tomers will have to bring their own mug or pay a de­posit for a re­us­able cup, which they can keep or re­turn for a re­fund. The de­posit fee will likely be $3 to $5, the com­pany said.

Blue Bot­tle’s pi­lot pro­gram will help guide the com­pany on how to ex­pand the idea na­tion­wide, CEO Bryan Mee­han said in a state­ment.

“We ex­pect to lose some busi­ness,” he said. “We know some of our guests won’t like it — and we’re pre­pared for that.”

De­spite the name, today’s con­ven­tional pa­per cups for hot drinks aren’t made solely from pa­per. They also have plas­tic lin­ings that pre­vent leak­age but make them hard to re­cy­cle, said Brid­get Croke, of New York-based re­cy­cling in­vest­ment firm Closed Loop Part­ners.

She added that it’s un­likely large na­tional chains will ban­ish dis­pos­able cups, in the im­me­di­ate term or per­suade all cus­tomers to bring mugs, so they’re look­ing for other so­lu­tions.

Star­bucks and McDon­ald’s chipped in $10 mil­lion to a part­ner­ship with Closed Loop to de­velop the “sin­gle-use cup of the fu­ture“that is re­cy­clable and com­postable.

Star­bucks, which has more than 15,000 U.S. cafes and about 16,000 in­ter­na­tion­ally, plans to test newly de­signed re­cy­clable cups next year in San Fran­cisco, Seat­tle, New York, Van­cou­ver and Lon­don, spokes­woman Noelle Novoa said.

Cal­i­for­nia cities have long been lead­ers in re­cy­cling and pass­ing laws to en­cour­age eco-friendly habits.

This year, the state be­came the first to ban restau­rants from au­to­mat­i­cally hand­ing out plas­tic straws with drinks. It was also the first, in 2014, to pro­hibit stores from pro­vid­ing dis­pos­able plas­tic gro­cery bags to shop­pers, and bags at check­out now cost 10 cents.

Also this year, San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional Air­port be­came the na­tion’s first ma­jor air­port to stop sell­ing wa­ter in plas­tic bot­tles. Wa­ter is now sold in glass bot­tles and alu­minum cans, and trav­el­ers are en­cour­aged to bring their own empty bot­tles to fill up for free.

Start­ing in Jan­uary, cafes and restau­rants in Berke­ley will charge 25 cents for dis­pos­able cups, and San Fran­cisco is con­sid­er­ing sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion.

Many coffee drinkers in the San Fran­cisco area are tak­ing Blue Bot­tle’s an­nounce­ment in stride.

“Of course it’s a good idea,” said free­lance writer Tracy Schroth, at a Blue Bot­tle cafe in Oak­land. “It’s such a small step to ask peo­ple to bring their own cup. Peo­ple just have to get into the mind­set.“

At a Blue Bot­tle in San Fran­cisco, elec­tri­cian Jeff Michaels said he does love the coffee but doesn’t want to pay more if he for­gets a mug.

“I paid al­most $7 for this coffee,” Michaels said, sip­ping a cafe mocha. “How much are peo­ple will­ing to pay for a coffee?”

ERIC RISBERG/AP

Re­us­able cups sell­ing for $16 each are dis­played at a Blue Bot­tle Coffee cafe in San Fran­cisco.

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