Although Starbucks’ green-logoed cups are iconic, the chain wants to reduce its environmental impact by switching to reusable cups by 2030, AP News reports.
Starbucks has had ambitious climate goals for years. Some have failed — like a previous attempt starting in 2008 to switch to all reusable or recyclable cups by 2015. Some, however, have succeeded, like the chain’s program that awards customers discounts for bringing in their own reusable cups.
Now, the company has reset its goals for 2030. On the way there, it will also create more recyclable single-use cups to rely on.
This move will take some investment, but it still makes sense for Starbucks, as AP News explained.
Oil-based products like plastic cause pollution when the oil is extracted from underground. They also shed microplastics that pollute the world’s water sources and can take a hundred years or more to break down. Everyday consumers are becoming increasingly aware of those impacts and supporting businesses that try to pollute less.
However, Erin Simon, vice president for plastic waste and business at World Wildlife Fund, told AP News that individual companies acting alone won’t be enough. “Not one institution, not one organization, not even one sector can change it on its own,” Simon said. Instead, Simon believes that government regulation and groups of businesses acting together will be needed to change the way modern businesses handle climate concerns.
But as AP News pointed out, Starbucks can do that. As the world’s largest and most recognized coffee chain, it has hundreds of suppliers manufacturing its cups. Pivoting to new models and materials could cause a ripple effect through the industry that could push other companies into greener policies, too.
Starbucks has already started pilot programs with reusable takeaway cups at sites like Arizona State University, AP News revealed. Customers can bring the cups back for a discount, just like they would get if they brought their own cups, or they can leave unwanted ones at stations on campus. Old or damaged cups are recycled into plastic boards that are used to make new return bins.
Valencia Villanueva, a barista at the Arizona State store, is optimistic about the program’s future. “Nobody has complained and said they wanted a single-use cup,” she told AP News.
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