Jan 3, 2024 - Business

Starbucks reusable cups now accepted at drive-thru, mobile orders

Starbucks barista pours coffee in a reusable cup for a take-out order.

Starbucks is now accepting reusable cups for mobile orders and at the drive-thru. Photo: Courtesy of Starbucks

Reusable cups can now be used on every Starbucks run, including drive-thru and mobile orders.

Why it matters: The coffee giant said it's a step in reducing waste by 50% by 2030 and part of a "larger cultural movement" to shift toward reusables and away from single-use plastics.

Driving the news: Starbucks said it is the first national coffeehouse in the U.S. to give consumers the option to use their personal cups when placing mobile orders.

  • All company-operated stores and participating licensed stores nationwide will accept clean personal cups starting Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Zoom out: The company told Axios that it has tested reusable cup programs in markets around the world including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, London, France and Germany.

  • Its largest U.S. test began last spring at 200 Colorado stores. All Colorado customers have been able to order with personal cups in drive-thrus since June 2023.

What they're saying: "As we know, the most sustainable cup is likely the one you already own," said Kate Daly, managing director and head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, in a statement.

  • "Bringing your own cup to stores is a critical step toward reducing single-use packaging waste," Daly said.

Flashback: Since the 1980s, Starbucks has allowed customers to bring in their own cups for in-store orders.

  • The company temporarily paused use of reusable cups for 15 months, starting in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Starbucks allowed customers to bring back reusable personal cups in June 2021 for orders placed in cafes.

Using reusable cups at Starbucks

How it works: When ordering at the drive-thru, customers order their beverages and let the barista know they brought their own cups.

  • At the pickup window, the personal cup is put without the lid in a "contactless vessel to ensure hygiene and safety."
  • For mobile orders on the Starbucks app, customers will select "Personal Cup" in the customization menu and give their cup when picking it up.
  • All cups need to be brought in clean and handed over without a lid on.

Between the lines: Starbucks told Axios that "overall drive-thru times were not negatively impacted" when it tested personal cups in Colorado drive-thrus last spring.

Starbucks reusable cup discount

Be smart: Starbucks rewards customers who bring and use clean reusable cups with a discount of 10 cents off a drink and members of its loyalty program also earn 25 bonus stars.

  • Customers can earn 25 stars up to three times per day for using the cups at participating locations.

Starbucks winter menu 2024

Starbucks is ringing in the new year with a new winter menu and the debut of the Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, new potato bakes and a vanilla bean custard Danish.

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