Single-use plastic cups at a garbage dump outside Jakarta, Indonesia [John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images]
BYOM… Time to dust off that old college mug before your next coffee run. Starbucks plans to phase out its signature paper and plastic cups over the next three years in a renewed effort to get customers to embrace reusables. Starbs goes through 7B disposable cups a year — which account for nearly a quarter of its global waste. Now the coffee giant is experimenting with ways to fix its garbage problem, while catering to eco-friendly investors:
Frictionless frappuccinos… Starbucks has struggled to get people to change their daily rituals. In 2008, it pledged to have a quarter of customers drinking out of reusable cups by 2015 (didn’t happen). Now Starbs figures the best chance of success is a push that has minimal impact on people’s routines. For drive-thru, it could mean baristas pouring premade drinks at the window. Don’t like walking around with a mocha-stained tumbler? Cup-washing stations — like those bartenders use — are coming to some stores.
Starbs is putting skin in the sustainability game… Nearly all corporate sustainability initiatives fail. But Starbucks is investing real capital to try to make reusable cups stick. How much it costs is TBD. Starbs shares rose on its cup-cutting announcement, and ahead of today’s shareholder meeting. But they’re still down 30% in the past year as the latte icon contends with supply snags, rising costs, and labor issues.