USA TODAY International Edition

Starbucks is testing reusable cups

You can sip, recycle and and earn points for $ 1

- Kelly Tyko Contributi­ng: Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY

More than a year after Starbucks stopped allowing consumers to bring in reusable cups in the early days of the COVID- 19 pandemic, the coffee giant said Tuesday that it is looking to go greener.

No, you can’t bring your own cup back in yet, but Starbucks announced the Earth Month launch of the “Borrow A Cup” trial program in five Seattle stores. The program runs through May 31.

The trial allows customers to order their beverage in a reusable cup for a $ 1 deposit.

When they return the cups at a participat­ing store’s contactles­s kiosk, or at home through a Seattle- area service called Ridwell, they’ll get the $ 1 back and 10 rewards points through the chain’s loyalty program. The cups are then profession­ally cleaned and sterilized.

Each borrowed cup replaces up to 30 disposable cups, Starbucks said, noting that it’s part of the company’s goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030.

Technicall­y, the company said its current mix of paper and plastic cups “can be recycled under the right circumstan­ces,” but can be used only once.

Americans use 120 billion disposable coffee cups each year, the Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund estimates. The inner plastic coating in the cups often prevents them from being recyclable.

“We believe it is our responsibi­lity to reduce single use cup waste,” Starbucks chief sustainabi­lity officer Michael Kobori said in a statement.

“We will lead the transition to a circular economy.”

COVID- 19 leads to reusable cup, bag bans

Until the pandemic and since the 1980s, Starbucks says it has allowed consumers to bring in their own cups or drink in the restaurant’s reusable “For Here Ware” and get a discount.

Coffee cups weren’t the only reusable item pushed aside during the pandemic.

Initially, plastic bags reemerged after some retailers temporaril­y banned reusable bags as they were associated with possibly spreading the virus, and single- use plastic bags were seen as less likely to carry disease.

Several states, including California, Massachuse­tts, Maine, New Hampshire and New York, took steps to delay, weaken or reverse laws banning plastic bags. Reusable bags are allowed again with some exceptions.

Costco is currently “allowing members to use their own reusable shopping bags as long as they pack the bags themselves,” according to its coronaviru­s updates page.

Sustainabl­e coffee cup

Starbucks has been working toward a more sustainabl­e cup for years, and in 2018, along with McDonald’s, committed $ 10 million in partnershi­p with Closed Loop Partners to establish the NextGen Consortium and Cup Challenge.

The company also has been doing research and testing solutions to make cups, lids and straws easier to recycle and compost.

“Starbucks is helping to pave the way for a waste- free future for the food service industry,” Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, said in a statement.

If the “Borrow A Cup” trial is successful, it could be expanded.

Starbucks told USA TODAY that it is a limited trial that the company plans “to learn from, adapt and scale based on our learnings.”

And is it possible personal cups will one day be accepted again?

“The decision to pause personal cup use was made early in the pandemic and continues today as the health and wellbeing of our partners and customers remains top of mind and our highest priority,” the company said to USA TODAY.

 ?? PROVIDED BY STARBUCKS ?? Starbucks is testing the “Borrow A Cup” program in five Seattle locations.
PROVIDED BY STARBUCKS Starbucks is testing the “Borrow A Cup” program in five Seattle locations.

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