Starbucks personal cup program expands to meet waste reduction goals

Mobile Order Pick Up with Starbucks Personal Cup
Mobile Order Pick Up with Starbucks Personal Cup / Starbucks

Sometimes drinking a beverage from a favorite cup just feels different. Now, the Starbucks personal cup program allows that favorite mug, travel cup, or bedazzled sipper to be used with any order.  

Single use materials are a major point of contention. While reusable water bottles have become more popular, reusable cups for other beverages are not necessarily the norm. No one brings their favorite cup to the drive-thru and asked for it to be filled. At Starbucks, now, they can.  

The Starbucks personal cup program allows guests to use their favorite, clean cup for that oatmilk latte, chai tea, or even Frappuccino. The decision to implement this program is a step towards dramatic waste reduction.  

According to Michael Kobori, Starbucks chief sustainability officer, “At Starbucks, we envision a future where every beverage can be served in a reusable cup. 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.” 

How does the Starbucks personal cup program work?  

When ordering, guests need to tell the barista that they are using their own cup. The order can be made at the counter, via the drive-thru, or via the app. Guests present their clean cup, without a lid, to the barista.  

The key to this whole process is that the cup must be clean. It is unclear how carefully baristas will monitor that determination, but they will not clean a cup. Hopefully, a well-loved cup with dents, dings, and other issues passes muster.  

Also, guests will choose their size when ordering. Most likely, everyone knows if that venti order can fit in the travel mug without spillage. While Starbucks has a measuring system, there may be some trial and error with everyone involved to ensure that beverage fits.  

There is an incentive to opting into the Starbucks personal cup program. Beyond the waste reduction, guests will save $0.10 per order and Starbucks Rewards members will receive 25 bonus stars.  

As the program beings its implementation, there may be some hiccups along the way. There might be delays in the drive-thru lane since cups will have to be passed back and forth. The extra time might not necessarily be great, but it seems likely to happen. But, if a few extra minutes helps reduce a large amount of waste, it should be worth it.  

No matter the situation, the reality is that one word should be used during the rollout phase, patience. Baristas and guests will need to adjust to the changes. Just like the resolutions made at the beginning of a year, change does not happen overnight. Hopefully, everyone will be still passing that personal cup to the barista in February.