Skip to content

This Iconic Symbol of Starbucks Could Soon Be Phased Out, the Company Says

The company is working to make single-use cups a less attractive option for customers.

One of the most prominent symbols of America's largest coffee chain may soon become much less visible. In a statement ahead of its 30th Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Starbucks highlighted efforts to make its iconic paper and plastic cups a less attractive option for customers in the near future.

As part of its sustainability goals, the company is looking to unburden the environment of the waste its disposable cups are producing every year. While the cups won't be phased out completely, Starbucks will soon be offering easy ways for customers to use their personal mugs or to borrow a ceramic or a reusable to-go mug from their local store.

For more fast-food news, check out Starbucks' New Price Hikes Are Enraging Customers—Here Are the Harshest Reactions.

By the end of next year, patrons will have the option of using their own reusable cups at every Starbucks location in the U.S. and Canada, even when ordering ahead or at the drive-thru.

Additionally, the chain is testing a Borrow a Cup program in a handful of Seattle locations and several other countries. The program allows customers to literally borrow a plastic cup, which can hold up to a Venti-sized beverage, for a dollar. Once the cup is returned, the dollar deposit, along with 10 Starbucks Bonus Stars, appears in the customer's Starbucks Rewards account.

"Customers were just so excited to try something new and my partners had a lot of pride in testing it and giving that feedback to make the program even better," said Kim Davis, store manager. "I do think that everyone really does want to contribute to a better world, and if we can help them do that one cup at a time, that is our mission right there."

In order to achieve its goal of reducing the waste it produces by 50% by 2030, the company outlined several other efforts. One is a soon-launching recycling app, which helps Starbucks employees navigate complex and unique recycling guidelines. Another is a partnership with Volvo, which will add electric-vehicle chargers to as many as 15 Starbucks stores along the driving route from the Colorado Rockies to the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle, demonstrating the chain's decarbonizations efforts.

"We have a bold long-term sustainability vision and ambitious goals for 2030," said Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson. "Starbucks partners around the world are passionate about protecting our planet and are at the very center of driving the innovation that enables us to give more than we take from the planet."

Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more about Mura