Starbucks has a dramatic new plan to ditch disposable coffee cups
JediMentat 44 / Flickr

Starbucks is the most popular coffee chain in the world and it's also one of the greatest producers of waste. The company uses more than 8,000 coffee cups per minute, which adds up to four billion a year. Over 1.6 million trees are harvested every year to make its disposable cups.

Since the cups are lined with plastic only four cities in the U.S. will accept them for recycling.

Starbucks has attempted to address this issue in the past by making bold proclamations that it will reduce its waste production, but unfortunately, they have yet to yield substantial results.


In honor of Earth Month, Starbucks has announced a new pilot program that aims to significantly reduce the amount of waste it generates. The new Borrow A Cup program launched in five Seattle stores allows customers to order their drink in a reusable cup for a $1 deposit.

When they return to the store they can drop the cup off at a kiosk and have their dollar returned and earn 10 rewards points. For some perspective, 25 rewards points gets you a free add shot in your coffee.

New Test: Borrow a Cup, Save a Cup www.youtube.com


The company will also pick up cups at customer's residences through a Seattle-area service called Ridwell.

The cups picked up by Ridwell or dropped off at the kiosk will be sanitized so they can be reused. Starbucks says that each reusable cup will prevent 30 disposable cups from being deposited in landfills or washed out into the ocean.

Should the company expand the program, it would reduce its global waste production by up to 50%.

"We believe it is our responsibility to reduce single-use cup waste," Starbucks chief sustainability officer Michael Kobori said in a statement. "We will lead the transition to a circular economy."

While the Seattle pilot program sounds promising, the company is also making drastic changes in South Korea where the government has banned plastic cups for dine-in restaurants. It's also recently introduced a bill that will force fast-food restaurants and coffee shops to charge a deposit fee for disposable cups.

Over the next four years, the company aims to phase out all single-use cups in South Korea. As part of the phase-out, the company has started a program in Jeju that allows customers to pay a small deposit for a reusable cup that they can return to a contactless kiosk.

"Starbucks's decision to end its reliance on throwaway materials and implement a reuse program in South Korea is the kind of approach we have been waiting to see," John Hocevar, oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA, said in a statement. "There is no reason that Starbucks cannot expand this same reusable kiosk technology to its stores in the United States and around the world to ensure a much greater impact as quickly as possible."

It takes time to change consumer habits, but recent plastic bag bans in California, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York have shown that over time, consumers will learn to use reusable items. So, if the same logic holds up for coffee drinkers, it would bode well for Starbucks' future efforts to reduce the amount of waste it produces.

Courtesy of CeraVe
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From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

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via Fox 5 / YouTube

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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