Starbucks Expands Reusable Cup Format to 12 California Stores

Seeking to move closer to the goal of cutting its waste footprint in half by 2030, Starbucks has added 12 locations to its 100% reusable operating model. Stores in Napa and Petaluma, Calif. will serve beverages either in customers’ personal cups or in a reusable “Borrow A Cup,” which customers can take with them and return in smart return bins.

According to a company blog post, “from August 14 through October 22, customers at participating stores will be able to bring their own personal cup in café or drive-thru, be offered a Borrow A Cup from Starbucks, or choose For Here Ware, a reusable ceramic or glass cup for customers who opt to sit and stay in café.”

For people returning their Borrow A Cup containers, Starbucks has equipped the California stores with TURN high-tech return bins, which allow the retailer to better understand cup return behaviors. Customers using these bins through Oct. 22 will be eligible to win prizes, while shoppers bringing their own cups will receive the standard benefit of 10 cents off, with Starbucks Rewards members earning 25 bonus stars.

Since 2021, Starbucks has been testing the 100% reusables model in multiple markets, including Arizona, Colorado and at the SODO 8 store inside the retailer’s Seattle headquarters, as well as globally in Japan, Singapore, London and South Korea.

“Our latest round of reusables tests around the world contribute to our goal for all customer packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable in the future,” said Amelia Landers, VP of Business Strategy, Partner and Customer Solutions at Starbucks in a statement. “We know our partners and customers care about the planet, and we’re proud to offer them ways to join us in making sustainable choices in their everyday lives.”

Because choosing reusables is a new habit for many customers, ease and convenience are foundational to any program. Starbucks developed personal cup washers in partnership with the Starbucks Tryer Innovation Lab to enhance convenience for customers bringing in their own cups. In participating stores across the Arizona State University campus, customers can wash their personal cup or a returned Borrow A Cup at the counter within the time it takes baristas to complete their order.

Starbucks also is planning to bring reusability to the drive-thru. Currently, customers across Colorado can place their personal cups in a carrier (similar to a kitchen measuring cup) to contactlessly hand their cup to the barista, then get it back filled with their beverage of choice. Beginning in 2024, customers in all Starbucks stores across the U.S. and Canada will be able to use their personal cups whichever way they order, including in a café, at a drive-thru or via mobile order.