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Behavior Change
Starbucks Becomes First National Coffee Retailer to Accept Reusable, Personal Cups

Starting January 3, 2024, customers will be able to use their own clean, personal cup at all company-operated stores and participating licensed stores in the US and Canada.

Starbucks Coffee Company has announced that, starting today, customers at all company-operated and participating licensed Starbucks stores across the US and Canada can use their own clean, personal cup when ordering in cafés, in drive-thrus or when ordering ahead with the Starbucks app. With the majority of Starbucks beverages enjoyed on the go, this milestone unlocks a big opportunity for customers to choose reusables and supports Starbucks’ commitment to reduce waste by 50 percent by 2030.

“At Starbucks, we envision a future where every beverage can be served in a reusable cup,” said Michael Kobori, Starbucks’ chief sustainability officer. “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.”

Starbucks is the first national coffeehouse in the US to offer customers the option to use their personal cup when mobile ordering. In Canada, Starbucks is the first to offer customers the option to use their personal cup in mobile ordering for all drinks and all sizes. This is part of a larger cultural movement the company is leading to shift toward reusables and away from single-use plastics by making it convenient for customers to use their own personal cup for every visit.

As a founding member of Closed Loop PartnersNextGen Consortium, Starbucks has been working to identify, accelerate and scale commercially viable, circular foodservice packaging solutions since 2018. And with most Starbucks beverages purchased on the go, the company continues to test how to best encourage customers to shift toward reusables.

Choosing reusables is a new habit for many customers; and Starbucks’ behavioral-science research shows ease and convenience are foundational for ease of adoption. Since 2021, Starbucks has been testing the 100 percent reusables model across more than 25 markets — including Japan, Singapore, London, South Korea and three US cities. In 2022, Starbucks began phasing out its ubiquitous, green-and-white disposable coffee cup and introducing various incentives for customers to either bring their own cups or choose a reusable one, and disincentives for using disposable options — including a disposable-cup fee and discounted prices for customers who used a ceramic Starbucks mug in stores. This is the latest expansion of the program — following further reusables pilots in 2023 in Arizona, California and Colorado.

"As we know, the most sustainable cup is likely the one you already own. Bringing your own cup to stores is a critical step toward reducing single-use packaging waste. Starbucks is a leader in this work, as the first national retailer of scale to offer personal cup ordering in every channel, including mobile order,” says Kate Daly, Managing Director and Head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “The NextGen Consortium is proud to have Starbucks as a founding member and looks forward to supporting Starbucks in their work to advance a waste-free world.”

How it works

Customers at participating stores in the US and Canada who bring any clean, personal cup will receive a $0.10 discount on their beverage; and in the US, Starbucks Rewards members will receive 25 Bonus Stars.*

  • In café, customers tell the barista when they order that they brought their own personal cup. Customers choosing to sit and stay in café can also request a reusable ceramic or glass cup at most stores. To ensure proper portioning when serving beverages in non-standard drinkware, baristas will build beverages using a new, custom beverage-craft smallware that has standardized lines need for measurements before pouring the beverage into the customer’s personal cup and adding any toppings.

  • In drive-thru, while ordering, customers order their beverage as usual, and let the barista know they brought their own cup. At the pickup window, baristas will collect customers’ personal cup without the lid using a contactless vessel to ensure hygiene and safety. The beverage will be returned the same way.

  • When customers order via the Starbucks app, first they will hit the “Customization” button and then select “Personal Cup” in the customization menu and continue ordering as normal. When they get to the store, customers connect with their barista at the pickup area, and hand over their clean personal cup without the lid. The barista will serve the beverage, add any finishing touches and pass it back in a contactless vessel.

Designed with partners and customers in mind

Starbucks says its personal-cup program is possible thanks to its test-and-learn approach, informed by partners (employees) in Starbucks Tryer Innovation Lab and at pilot locations across the US.

During a successful personal cup test at 200 drive-thru stores across Colorado last spring, Starbucks store partners informed and helped co-design the custom, reusable-cup smallware all stores will now use to transfer orders to personal cups.

Starbucks says partners talking to customers in stores about the ease of and incentives for bringing a personal cup will be key to bringing customer behavior change to life.

“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 partner who worked at a store that participated in the Colorado test. “This has been a really big hit.”

Starbucks says it has more reusables tests planned in stores around the world in the year ahead.

*Valid at participating stores on in-store, drive-thru, or in-app beverage purchases only (max 3x per day).

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