With its reusable cups and discounts for eco-friendly customers, Starbucks is one step ahead of most of its competitors when it comes to being environmentally conscious. That said, the Seattle-based coffee mecca is now hoping to take things a step further to reduce waste and create a major shift in consumer habits.
Following the plastic straw ban in Seattle, Washington, Starbucks’ iconic green straws will soon become obsolete, especially once more U.S. cities follow suit. However, banning plastic straws is only a small step in the right direction. In addition to getting rid of plastic straws, Starbucks could — and in some places, already is — start charging for paper cups.
Starbucks encourages its customers to consume consciously. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Starbucks wants its customers to use reusable cups
Although its responsible for billions of single-use paper cups in landfills around the world, that was never Starbucks’ intention. Since its beginnings, the Seattle-based coffeehouse has looked for ways to promote — and encourage — eco-conscious consumption. However, its coffee lovers have never fully grasped the vision.
Despite offering reusable cups (some of which are as low as $1) and discounts to those who use them, Starbucks still struggles to make an environmental impact. “We plan to expand the ideas that work to other markets and continue to explore new ways to reduce our cup waste,” Starbucks shared on its website. “Ultimately though, it will be our customers who control whether or not we achieve continued growth in the number of beverages served in reusable cups,” it adds.
To put things into perspective, only about 1.8% of its customers in the United Kingdom used reusable cups prior to February 2018. However, that all changed after Starbucks introduced a three-month trial run of its next eco-friendly initiative.
Starbucks might introduce a charge on all paper cups. | Starbucks
Why Starbucks might start charging for cups
Earlier this year, the coffee company implemented a five pence charge on all paper cups in 35 central and west London shops. In just six weeks, the number of customers drinking out of reusable cups went up 150%. Albeit a relatively small improvement — some locations saw 5.9% of its customers switch to reusable cups — the increase was enough to spark further interest.
“We are encouraged by the initial results of our trial that show that by charging 5p and increasing communication on this issue, we can help reduce paper cup use,” Jason Dunlop, the chief operating officer of Starbucks in the U.K. told Independent. Following the success of its first trial-run, Starbucks might be onto something — and could start charging for cups in its U.S. locations, too.
Similar to the 10 cent charge on plastic bags in grocery stores, Starbucks could lead the way in a new single-use revolution. In order to move the needle and better encourage more eco-friendly consumption, the coffee house could not only start charging for paper cups but inspire its competitors to do the same. While it might be awhile before the initiative makes its way to the U.S., some cities might see a change sooner than others — especially those that embrace the plastic straw ban.
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