Starbucks Is Quietly Testing a New, Greener Single-Use Coffee Cup
Back in April 2018, Starbucks announced its $10 million commitment to combat pollution worldwide. Through a partnership with Closed Loop Partners and its Center for the Circular Economy, Starbucks launched the NextGen Cup Challenge, with the purpose of developing a completely recyclable and compostable cup. Now, just shy of two years later, Starbucks has announced that it’s testing environmentally friendly cups in some locations, including New York, San Francisco, Seattle, London and Vancouver.
— Blondie (@BlondieClimate) March 12, 2020
According to EcoWatch, the new cups are virtually identical to the normal Starbucks cups:
Starbucks is pilot testing environmentally friendly cups that look and feel just like the company's normal cups, but the plastic lining has been replaced with a compostable liner, making the cups recyclable and compostable, according to CNN.
One of the reasons Starbucks has had trouble finding the right alternative to standard single-use paper cups is that many recycling facilities don’t actually separate the paper cups from their plastic linings, which ends up being a problem with machines and equipment if they aren’t recycled the right way, CNN noted.
Because of the same issue with the old cups and the lining, the new ones are being released in a few cities that are actually able to strip the bioliner from the cup. Via CNN:
Starbucks is intentionally testing the new cups out in cities with recycling facilities that can do so. But recycling infrastructure in the United States varies from region to region, and it's hard to know whether something that can be recycled actually is recycled. Starbucks is working with Closed Loop Partners and others to make sure that the cups really are more easily recycled than its traditional products.
It's not limiting testing to the biolined cups. Other NextGen Cup challenge winners included reusable cups. One, called CupClub, puts RFID chips in cups so they can be tracked and then picked up from drop points to be cleaned and reused. Starbucks, which announced last year that it would test out greener cups, is still exploring other potential solutions.
EcoWatch added that Starbucks will be testing out the new cups “over the next four weeks and looking for feedback from customers and baristas,” though that will likely be on hold as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
Food & Wine shared that Starbucks also has the new non-straw lids available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis and Toronto. Other locations throughout the U.S. and Canada will have to wait a bit longer before these lids are available. Starbucks is also "testing alternative straw materials" as another option to replace single-use drinking straws.