Starbucks Cups: Testing a New One But Don’t Bring Your Own

As a result of what they learned in China, Starbucks will not allow people to bring in their own “vessels” to get their cup of joe as a result of the coronavirus outbreak — the “temporary” measure went into effect last week and will remain so for the foreseeable future.   But at the same time, CNN is reporting that the company is testing in five U.S. cities an environmentally-friendly cup that is indistinguishable from the company’s current one, except that the plastic lining has been replaced with a compostable liner thus making the cups recyclable and compostable.

Why This Matters:  There are times when — particularly with respect to health and safety — single-use plastic items are a necessity.  This coronavirus outbreak is one of those times. But there should be alternatives that can be disposed of safely — that is why the Starbucks cup challenge is so important.  Starbucks (and its customers) have struggled with finding a more sustainable cup — according to The Verge, they had to scale back promises to serve 25% of their drinks in reusable cups by 2015 — and only 2% of the company’s drinks had been served in such vessels, but coronavirus is likely to drive that number down again.  We will keep you posted on how the company’s cup challenge fares — because ODP, like many of its readers, runs on coffee!

Other Starbucks Coronavirus Safety Measures

U.S. and Canadian stores have enacted several measures including increased cleaning and sanitizing of all locations, halting the use of customer-provided cups and restricting its employees’ domestic and international travel plans through March 31.  A company spokesperson said, “We will continue to stay close to our partners and local health officials, and we are optimistic this will be a temporary situation…Our hope — as always — is that after this is over partners will look back and say, ‘I can’t believe I work for a company that cared so much for me, my family and my community.’”

The Search For A Better Cup

Starbucks’ NextGen Cup Challenge is an open-sourced challenge to create a widely recyclable and/or compostable cup.  According to Starbucks, the company narrowed down to 12 different prototypes before it chose to go with the cup they are testing that has a “BioPBS” liner. The company has promised to reduce waste by 50 percent over the next decade.  But even this new cup is not a perfect solution — they can only be used in cities with sorting facilities where the lining can be separated from the cup itself so that just the cups get thrown away, CNN reported.  The cities testing the cups are New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and London, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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