Starbucks trials compostable paper cups, places ban on reusables due to coronavirus

Starbucks has announced it will trial the use of recyclable and compostable paper cups in the UK, but has placed a ban on customers using personal re-usable cups due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The store trials will last for four weeks

The store trials will last for four weeks

Starbucks will trial the compostable paper cups across select stores in San Francisco, London, Seattle, New York and Vancouver. It builds on an overall ambition to develop a 100% compostable and recyclable coffee cup solution by 2022.

The compostable cups are fitted with a BioPBS liner, rather than polyethene, which is certified as both compostable and recyclable. The BioPBS technology was created by a winning company of the NextGen Cup Challenge and has been researched and developed internally by Starbucks to a point where they a ready to rollout out in-market tests of the cup’s performance. The store trials will last for four weeks.

In July 2018, McDonald's committed £3.8m ($5m) to help research, develop and commercialise recyclable and compostable coffee cups, joining Starbucks as a founding member of the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge. The funds provided by McDonald’s build on the £7m pledged by Starbucks to the Consortium earlier that year.

Starbucks and McDonald’s are aiming to develop a global solution that stops plastic-lined paper coffee cups being sent to landfill, by either giving them a second life as another cup or other recycled content. Successful innovations are now being released onto the North American market.

Last month, two NextGen Cup Challenge winners were unveiled and will have their respective "smart" reusable cup systems trialled in open environments and cafes in San Francisco and Palo Alto in the US.

Reusables ban

In related news, Starbucks staff in the UK will now implement the same precautions that have been implemented in the US and Canada banning customers from using personal reusable cups. The ban has been issued in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the company told the Independent that the company was “pausing the use of personal cups or tumblers in our stores across the UK”.

Starbucks’ executive vice president and president of US and Canada operations Rossann Williams penned an open letter to stakeholders to explain the decision.

Customers that bring reusable cups will still receive the 25p discount, but all drinks will be served in disposable variants until further notice.

Starbucks is also restricting all business-related air travel, both domestic and international until the end of the month.

Matt Mace



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