Coffeehouse chain Starbucks Corp. plans to introduce a reusable plastic cup in the U.S. and Canadian markets to decrease the amount of trash generated from its currently disposable cups.
The Seattle-based coffee giant will charge customers $1 for the tumbler—should they agree to the purchase—but for each subsequent purchase using the plastic cup, the company will knock 10 cents off the price of drink. It will also steam clean the cup each time.
In effect, the cup should pay for itself after 10 uses. Not a bad idea considering the company uses more than 4 billion disposable paper cups each year globally.
Starbucks last year tested the concept at 600 stores in its home market of the Northwestern United States, and feedback has been better than expected. Cup reusage increased 26 percent in the test stores.
The new tumblers will look like the iconic Starbucks white disposable cups, and come in 10 ounce and 16 ounce varieties, corresponding to its current “tall” and “grande” sizes.
The strategy is the culmination of a measure Starbucks outlined in 2008, when it aimed to serve 25 percent of its beverages in reusable containers by 2015 in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. “In 2011 customers brought their own tumblers into our stores more than 34 million times, saving more than 1.5 million pounds of paper from landfills,” Starbucks said in a statement on its website.
While the 10-cent discount for customers who bring their own containers is already in place, so far the strategy has not gained wide adoption. Last year, only 2 percent of customers brought in their own cups.
It remains to be seen how well customers adopt the strategy. While $1 in addition to the regular price of drinks is already an added expense, remembering to bring the tumbler each time one goes to Starbucks may be an even bigger challenge.
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