Starbucks Hopes $1 Reusable Tumbler Will Cut Cup Waste

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Starbucks set a goal to have 25 percent of its drinks sold in reusable containers by 2015. Photo: Starbucks

The Starbucks paper coffee cup is an icon of sorts, but with 4 billion cups sold annually, it’s also an icon of landfills.

As an ongoing commitment to turn their business a darker shade of green, the international coffee purveyors have unveiled a $1 reusable coffee tumbler aimed at cutting down on paper cup waste. While the company has often sold reusable coffee cups, it now hopes the low price of the tumbler will be enough of an incentive to go green. Customers that use the cup also get a 10 cent discount on each drink – but will the discounted price be enough for customers to drop the paper cup habit?

Starbucks has established a goal to serve 5 percent of drinks in reusable cups by 2015. In 2011, 1.9 percent of the company’s drinks were sold in multiuse containers.

There are plenty of factors at play when it comes to Starbucks ditching the disposable habit. First, consumers have to remember their cup at home, even before they’ve had their morning Starbucks rush. Secondly, the company has to account for spontaneous, unplanned purchases of Starbucks drinks. And of course, will consumers even care enough to pay the initial $1 on top of a drink price to do the right thing?

Starbucks holds an annual cup summit to rethink the recyclablilty of their paper cups and have learned some useful information about consumer habits and corporate responsibility, the company says on its website.

“Since our first Cup Summit, we’ve learned that success has been a combination of forward-thinking collaborations along with innovative approaches to widespread challenges. When we started on the journey, we felt that the cup material was the key contributor to recyclability. But as we’ve learned more, we now believe that the improvement of local recycling infrastructures and commercial markets for used paper and plastics will ultimately drive recyclability,” the company writes in a cups and recycling corporate report.