Starbucks Plans to Get Rid of the Iconic Plastic Cup

Starbucks Plans to Get Rid of the Iconic Plastic Cup

The iconic green and white plastic starbucks cup is soon to be retracted from all Starbucks sales and advertising. The recent retraction from all sales is due to the fact that the cup is made heavily of plastic materials that are harmful to the environment.  To combat this problem, Starbucks has recently announced that they will be using all recyclable cups or mugs in all of the US and Canada by the end of the year. Michael Kobori, chief sustainability officer, views it as, “eliminating the disposable cup.” He called that option “the holy grail,” as stated in WDSU news. 


The company’s means to get rid of the plastic cups was because of the recent rise of the cups ending up in landfills, street litter, and waterways, with only a small amount of the cups being recycled. These programs will then help the company reach their goal of reducing waste by 50 percent, according to “Our cup is ubiquitous, and we love that. But it is also this ubiquitous symbol of a throwaway society,” according to


So instead of taking more from the earth than they can give, Starbucks has decided to create a new program called “Borrow-A-Cup programs,” where this program will be giving back more to the environment. The Borrow a Cup program consists of the customers paying a deposit for a durable cup that they take with them and drop back off after use. Another program that Starbucks is reintroducing is called the personal cup, which was very popular during the early pandemic, and is basically customers using their own reusable cups and mugs from their own possession. 


 Before they put their plan into action, Starbucks has to work to find a solution for the problem of ordering different sizes like a Short (8oz), Tall(12oz), Grande (16oz), Venti (20oz), and Trenta (31oz). Also, they need to figure out how to get reusables through a drive-thru, and make them available to customers who order ahead, but Starbucks has been testing different options at its innovation center. “We’ve got mock stores set up,” said Amelia Landers, a vice president of produce experience, whose team is responsible for sustainable packaging at Starbucks Landers. “We have different versions of the drive-thru layout,” as mentioned in WDSU news. 


The cup in the Borrow a Cup program is very eco friendly and it can reduce twice the amount of trash that is responsible for the harm of our environment, “we developed a new cup that had a very low environmental footprint, was lightweight polypropylene, ultimately recyclable and could replace 100 single-use disposable cups,” Landers explained, according to CNN. 


  So far, Starbucks is trying to spread awareness of the two programs, and they are hoping that by 2025 the Borrow a Cup and personal cup programs will be permanent and successful, and that the current plastic cup will be out of the attention, and will be less used.  This will take place in café, drive-thru, and mobile orders. Also according to CNN, it states that so far Starbucks is testing out the program worldwide, “we are testing a number of different [Borrow-a-Cup] programs around the globe,” including, “20 different iterations and in eight different markets,” stated Amelia Landers. 


Reactions amongst team members of the company have varied from happiness to excitement, and many have been relieved because they no longer have to take the load off of the cleaning. According to Kim Davis, who is a manager at the store,  the program that was tested stated that, “the excitement and engagement was really high among my customers and my [employees].” For baristas, the process was straightforward enough — they just used the reusable cup instead of a regular one to prepare drinks. A third-party company collected the dirty cups for cleaning, so baristas didn’t have to worry about that part of the process.


So far, these programs will help reduce the amount of haphazardly waste into the environment, and it will create a cleaner environment for us to live in. By 2025, starbucks will have an easy to use system for all customers to have access to reusable cups provided by the company or themselves daily.