Starbucks has made a major change to its cup policy

Starbucks has made a major upgrade to one of its store policies: allowing customers to use their own cups when placing mobile and drive-thru orders.

On 3 January, the coffee chain announced that its policy is now in effect, giving customers the opportunity “to use their own clean, personal cup” every time they visit stores in the US and Canada. As noted in the press release, the update is part of Starbucks’ plan to cut the company’s waste by 50 per cent by 2030.

“At Starbucks, we envision a future where every beverage can be served in a reusable cup,” chief sustainability officer, Michael Kobori, said in a statement. “Offering customers more options to use a personal cup when they visit Starbucks marks tangible progress towards the future. 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.”

In the press release, Starbucks also noted that the company is leaning away from disposable, single-use cups in general, with hopes of making it easier for customers to use personal cups each time they go to stores.

There are now three different ways to use personal cups when going to Starbucks stores. For example, when placing an order through the Starbucks app, customers can first hit the “customisation” button, before selecting “personal cup” in the customisation menu. From there, they can then order their drink as they usually would.

Once they get to the store, customers will hand their clean, personal cups to the barista, before the Starbucks worker hands “the beverage back in a contactless vessel”.

When going to Starbucks’ drive-thru, customers can start by ordering their drink and letting the barista know they brought a personal cup. Once they get to the pick-up window, the Starbucks worker will take the cup “without the lid using a contactless vessel to ensure hygiene and safety”. The cup, with the beverage in it, will be returned to the customer and the drive-thru window.

While ordering drinks in the stores, customers will tell Starbucks workers at the register that they have a personal cup. After handing the cup to the barista, the personal cup will be returned to customers with the beverage in it.

As part of the policy, Starbucks customers will receive a $0.10 discount when using a personal cup in stores. In addition, Starbucks Rewards members with their own cups with also get 25 bonus stars on the app.

In March 2022, Starbucks released its plan to work towards eliminating single-use cups. At the time, the coffee chain announced that it was testing new technologies to help eliminate waste sent to landfill from its stores and operation sites.

“Innovation is how we will build our next chapter, advance our planet’s positive impact, and boldly reimagine our future together,” Kobori said in the 2022 press release.

The company noted that its goal is to create a “cultural movement” by 2025 where customers can easily access their personal or Starbucks-provided reusable cups during each visit to the store.