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Starbucks makes major change to its drive-thru and mobile ordering policies that will save customers money: 'A critical step'

Starbucks has said that most of its transactions, including the approximately four million drinks sold daily, are to-go.

Starbucks has said that most of its transactions, including the approximately four million drinks sold daily, are to-go.

Photo Credit: iStock

Coffee giant Starbucks is finally going more BYOC, and the planet-friendly move could prevent millions of throwaway cups from entering our already brimming landfills. Even better, you save money on each drink when you "bring your own cup." 

The option is being offered for the first time across the most popular purchase methods, "when ordering in a café, in the drive-thru, or when ordering ahead with the Starbucks app," the coffeehouse reports.   

The program started Jan. 3 at all company-owned locations and some licensed shops in the United States and Canada. Coffee connoisseurs just need to bring a clean cup, and the baristas will fill it with lattes, teas, and java. You will save 10 cents each time you BYOC, up to three times a day, according to a press release. 

"At Starbucks, we envision a future where every beverage can be served in a reusable cup," Michael Kobori, the coffee chain's chief sustainability officer, said in the press release. 

Starbucks has said that most of its transactions, including the approximately four million drinks sold daily (according to a 2016 USA Today report), are to-go. Company officials see the new program as a way to encourage sustainable packaging, possibly by the millions. It's also part of the way Starbucks intends to reduce waste by up to 50% by 2030, officials said in the press release. 

This isn't Starbucks' first move in reusable cups. A program reported on in 2022 encouraged rewards club members to BYOC, offering discounts and "Bonus Stars." That program now appears open to everyone. The "Star" rewards remain for members only. 

As part of the reuse expansion effort, Starbucks claims to be the first coffeehouse in the country to allow for reusable cups for mobile orders. 

The program could make a substantial impact if customers take advantage of the perk, especially if it is expanded to other countries. Data collector Statista reported that Starbucks sold more than $19.5 billion worth of beverages worldwide in 2022.  

"As we know, the most sustainable cup is likely the one you already own. Bringing your own cup to stores is a critical step toward reducing single-use packaging waste. Starbucks is a leader in this work, as the first national retailer of scale to offer personal cup ordering in every channel, including mobile order," Kate Daly, head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, said in the press release. 

Closed Loop is a firm working with Starbucks and other businesses on sustainable plans. 

The news is a great example of how reuse can reduce the waste we produce each day. Nonprofit The Earth & I reported that people worldwide use about 500 billion plastic cups each year. In the U.S., we throw out around 25 billion foam cups annually, per Earthday.org. 

For Starbucks' part, the sustainable news hasn't always been sweet and creamy, as reports have surfaced regarding food and cup waste. 

But company officials seem open to changes, even sacrificing its iconic green-logoed cups for reusable options. 

"We know our customers are passionate about the planet, and now, they can join us in our efforts to give more than we take, no matter how they order," Kobori said in the press release. 

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