Starbucks Pledges to Develop Recyclable Cup by 2021

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starbucks cup

A cup that is compostable, fully recyclable and still holds a steaming hot coffee is becoming the biggest talking point for the catering industry today.

Now coffee giant Starbucks has, after mounting public pressure, announced it is pledging $10m to make that cup a reality within the next three years.

The issue at stake is the contents that make up the cup, which cannot be actively recycled just as other materials can be.

A coalition of environment pressure groups united under the Break Free from Plastic campaign to commit Starbucks to honour a pledge to introduce 100 percent recyclable coffee cups.

“So today, we are declaring a moon shot for sustainability to work together as an industry to bring a fully recyclable and compostable cup to the market, with a three-year ambition,”

Starbucks said in a statement.

“No one is satisfied with the incremental industry progress made to date, it’s just not moving fast enough.”

Which is an irony, given the campaign’s leaders cited Starbucks’ 2008 pledge to switch to a 100 percent recyclable paper cup.

“Because this is their third commitment, we need more details from Starbucks about its pledge,” said Todd Paglia, executive director of Stand.earth, the joint leaders of the campaign.

“No one is satisfied with the incremental industry progress made to date, it’s just not moving fast enough.”

Sondhya Gupta, senior campaigner at SumOfUS, the other lead organisation, said public pressure has “forced” Starbucks to finally commit serious investment.

“This is a step forward but only part of the solution. We must keep up the pressure to make the company quickly get rid of plastic pollution in all its products and stop promoting a throwaway culture.”

A ‘latte levy’ – charging extra for cups – was floated recently, but UK ministers ignored it by urging voluntary discounts from coffee shops for customers that bring their own cups.

Starbucks, as with other coffee chains, has begun trialling its own latte levy in select London outlets.

waste mountain of coffee cups infographic