Starbucks Is Testing A Reusable Cup Program That Could Expand Nationwide

Starbucks is looking to up its commitment to encouraging recycling and reducing waste. The company has long supported the practice of allowing customers to bring their personal cups into stores and giving them a 10-cent discount on their orders, but it has only been available at some locations. Beginning in 2024, customers can use their own cups at all locations across the United States and Canada, no matter whether they bring their cups in-store, to the drive-thru, or use the mobile order option. 

In addition to encouraging customers to bring their own cups, Starbucks is also testing out an in-house solution that focuses on reusable cups. The Borrow A Cup program allows customers to return cups after they have used them, which then be cleaned and reused. There is no deposit required on the Borrow A Cup cups. The company also offers customers the choice to use the store's For Here Ware when they are dining in. Launched on August 14, the company is currently testing these options in 12 stores in California at the company's locations in Napa and Petaluma. They are working with TURN Systems on this project. TURN is providing the high-tech bins used to collect reusable cups.

Starbucks explores reusable cup options

In the participating California stores, the company helps to motivate customers to return their cups by offering them a chance to win a prize with each cup they bring back if they register with TURN Systems. This test program will run until October 22. This is just the company's latest efforts in its reusables program, which it began back in 2019. So far Starbucks has conducted reusable cup studies in more than 25 markets globally.

There is currently another test being done at Arizona State University that started in May. In this case, customers wash their own personal cup or a returned Borrow A Cup at a special cleaning station (shown above) in the store and receive a dollar off their order. More tests are planned this year at yet undisclosed locations. In a statement to Tasting Table, Starbucks said, "The biggest thing to learn from these tests as we prepare to bring this model to more stores, is how to offer customers a way to shift away from single use cups toward a reusable to-go-coffee experience, in a way that is convenient, easy, and enjoyable."

Starbucks has already achieved its goal of serving 100 percent of its beverages in reusable cups at its store within the company's headquarters. Overall, the business is aiming to cut its waste footprint in half by 2030.