Starbucks has outlined its roadmap towards more sustainable coffee cup consumption, which involves designing cups, straws and lids for recycling or composting; accepting consumers’ reusable cups in all North American order channels; and sharing recyclability data between stores.

Right now, the single-use fibre cups served at Starbucks are said to contain 30% post-consumer recycled content. Its lightweighted hot cups feature 10-20% less plastic, the company says, while select markets offer fibre-based cups that are designed for compostability.

Furthermore, its core sleeves reportedly contain 85% recycled material and its ‘strawless’ lid design hopes to cut down on waste generated by single-use straws. Where straws are necessary, Starbucks underlines that they are made of compostable material or paper, and it is in the process of phasing out lid stoppers, instead using recyclable lid stickers.

By 2030, it aims to ensure that all its cups are 100% compostable, recyclable, or reusable; manufactured with 50% less material derived from fossil fuels; and sourced from 50% recycled materials.

The company highlights all US-based, company-owned stores with café seating offer ‘for-here’ cups to allow consumers to drink their coffee on the premises. For the purposes of takeaway orders, returnable cups are currently being trialled in over 30 tests in more than 20 global markets.

Starbucks recently became the first national coffee retailer in the United States to serve consumers in their own reusable cups in café, drive-thru, and mobile orders – and the first in Canada to allow consumers to use their personal cups when ordering any drink in any size through their phones. This service is available in all order channels across North America.

In the digital space, the company has developed a Partner Waste and Recycling App. Informed by employees, it aims to help store partners understand which materials can be composted or recycled in their specific zip code.

Starbucks also states that it has invested $10 million in Circular Services to improve recycling infrastructures in the United States.

It hopes that its efforts – some of which are still in development and set to launch by the end of this year – will help drive reuse as a contributor to a circular economy. It seeks to improve recycling and organics diversion to cut down on the amount of waste sent to landfills; and support the creation of globally harmonized definitions and standards to reduce complexity and uplift circularity.

At the end of last year, Starbucks was included in the fourth annual report from WWF’s ReSource: Plastic programme, which examined the plastic footprints of programme members. It found a general decrease in their use of ‘problematic plastics’ from 2021 to 2022, although the plastic weight in their aggregate portfolio apparently rose.

In other coffee-related news, TIPA and ATI revealed a ‘first-of-its-kind’ fully compostable lid for coffee capsules in line with upcoming compostability legislation; and Smurfit Kappa and Valpak joined forces to develop a freestanding cardboard cup recycling box, which can be used to transport empty beverage containers to waste collectors and recycled alongside them.

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