Marketing

Customers can now bring their own cups to Starbucks

The coffee giant will give customers the option to use their personal cup as the company makes good on a goal to reduce single-use cup waste.
Starbucks
Starbucks makes beverages in smallware with measurement lines before pouring them into customers' mugs. | Photos courtesy of Starbucks.

Got a favorite cup? You can now bring it to Starbucks.

The Seattle-based coffee giant on Wednesday said it will allow customers to bring their personal cups to its company and many licensed stores as part of a bid to shift away from the single-use cups that fill the nation’s landfills.

Customers in the U.S. and Canada who bring in a clean personal cup will get a 10-cent discount on their drinks and members of the company’s Starbucks Rewards loyalty program will receive 25 bonus stars.

Those who plan to remain in one of the chain’s cafes can also request a reusable ceramic or glass cup in most stores. The option for using a personal cup is also on the company’s mobile app, in its “customization” menu. And those who go through the drive-thru can simply let the barista know they have their own cup at the point of order.

Baristas in the drive-thru then collect the personal cup without the lid, using a contactless vessel to “ensure hygiene and safety.”

All the company’s beverage sizes, short, tall, Grande and venti, and beverage formats, hot, iced and blended, are eligible to be ordered in a personal cup. Baristas build the beverage using a custom beverage craft smallware that has standardized lines for measurement. They then pour the beverage into the personal cup and add any toppings.

Starbucks personal cup

Starbucks baristas don't hold cups themselves, handing lidless personal cups to customers with a special vessel. 

“We envision a future where every beverage can be served in a reusable cup,” Michael Kobori, Starbucks chief sustainability officer, said in a statement. “Offering customers more options to use a personal cup when they visit Starbucks marks tangible progress towards this future.”

Starbucks promised in 2022 that it would allow customers to use their personal cups. The company tested the idea at its Tryer Innovation Lab at company headquarters and then at pilot locations across the U.S. Starbucks tested personal cups last spring at 200 drive-thru locations across Colorado.

Employees, which the company calls partners, helped codesign the smallware used to transfer orders to personal cups.

Starbucks has been working on the use of reusable cups, having tested 20 such reusable cup programs in stores around the world. It has more such tests planned this year. “The most sustainable cup is likely the one you already own,” Katy Daly, managing director and head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, said in a statement. “Bringing your own cup to stores is a critical step toward reducing single-use packaging waste.”

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