Starbucks to Offer Reusable Cup-Share Program in SA

Starbucks Cup Share

Starbucks has announced that it will introduce a unique reusable Cup-Share program in all of its 3,840 stores in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMA) by 2025 as it looks to reduce the amount of its single-use waste. An initial trial will begin over the coming months in the U.K., France and Germany, expanding shortly thereafter based on local operations, regulations, and customer feedback.

Introducing and scaling a reusable Cup-Share initiative is a key part of Starbucks’ global commitment to reduce single-use cup waste and goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030. The program is designed to overcome barriers currently limiting reusable cup usage. This work also expands on the company’s comprehensive strategy to designing out waste which includes in-store recycling and ceramic availability, reusable discounts, as well as paper cup surcharges and developing a circular economy through merchandise like the Starbucks Circular Cup.

Starbucks personal reusable cups
SA customers currently enjoy a R2 discount when using a Starbucks personal reusable cup.

Duncan Moir, president Starbucks EMEA said: “We have set an ambitious goal to be a resource positive company and I believe we have a responsibility to give our customers new and unique options to integrate reusables in their day-to-day lives. While we have made great strides in reducing the number of single-use paper cups that leave our stores, there is more to be done, and we must make reusability the only option, long term”.

In the pilot projects, Starbucks will trial a Cup-Share program that allows customers to pay a small deposit for a reusable cup for hot and cold beverages. Tested to last up to 30 times and available in three sizes, each cup uses an identifying number associated with the Starbucks reusable cup to the deposit paid. The customer will then be able to use their reusable and return it to Starbucks via a kiosk or at the point of sale. Upon return, Starbucks will give the deposit back to the customer in the form of tender.

Starbucks Cup Share

As part of the Cup-Share program, Starbucks will be introducing a new reusable cup that uses patented foaming technology that results in a rigid and durable wall structure with up to 70% less plastic than current reusable cups. In addition, this unique wall structure provides insulation for both hot and cold liquids, so that it can be used for both hot and cold beverages without the need for any sleeve, helping to further reduce our resource footprint.

This initiative will be in addition to providing a R2 discount in South Africa for any customer bringing in their own reusable cup across the region. The company is also re-introducing its 5 pence/cent paper cup surcharge in the U.K. and Germany to encourage reusable usage with funds being directed to environmental charities addressing global waste issues. This re-introduction is compounded by Starbucks stores in Switzerland and Czech Republic also introducing a paper cup charge over the coming weeks.

Customer Barriers to Reusability:

In 2019, the company commissioned environmental and behavioural experts, Hubbub to do a U.K. study on the factors that contributed to customers not using a reusable cup. Key findings include:

36% of people don’t use a reusable cup every time they buy a hot drink because they must remember them every time they go out. Despite 69% of people owning a reusable cup, only 17% use them every time they buy a hot drink. 27% of people would be embarrassed to ask a store to put a hot drink in their own cup.

Trewin Restorick, CEO, Hubbub said: “It is massively encouraging to see the steps that Starbucks is taking which makes it as easy as possible for people to choose a reusable cup. The company has run reuse trials to understand what incentivises customers to act and pioneered different pricing mechanisms. Building on this expertise, they have set out bold plans, using their scale and influence, to chart a new way forward that could change the entire industry.”

Starbucks Cup Share

How it will work

The reusable cup is based on the design of the brand’s distinctive white and green paper cups and customers will have to pay a deposit to use one for their order. Here’s how the system currently works in the US and how it will most likely roll out to EMA.

1. Order your beverage in a reusable cup and pay a small deposit.

Customers can order any beverage that will come in the newly designed reusable cup in-person at a participating Starbucks café. If a customer wants their drink in a reusable cup, they will simply tell the barista and pay a refundable deposit.

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2. Return the cup and receive a credit and bonus stars.

After the customer is finished with the drink, they scan their cup at a contactless return kiosk, which will be located in the lobby at participating locations, and drop the cup in the designated opening. After that, they will simply scan their Starbucks App to have the credit and Bonus Stars applied to their account.

Starbucks Cup Share

3. Each cup is professionally cleaned and sanitised.

The borrowed cups are then collected from stores daily and are professionally cleaned and sanitised with commercial-grade dishwashing equipment, and put back into circulation.

The new pilot effort and sanitising standards will be done in addition to the coffee chain’s cleaning protocols that follow public health guidelines to help to reduce the spread of Covid-19, the company said.

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