Starbucks has committed to offer a reusable cup share programme across all 3,840 European, Middle East and Africa stores by 2025. Hubbub will be supporting on the development and delivery of a UK trial later this year with similar tests being undertaken in Germany and France.

The pilot schemes will allow customers to pay a small deposit for a reusable cup for both hot and cold drinks. Customers will be able to use their cup and return it Starbucks via a kiosk or at point of sale where upon they will be given their deposit back in the form of a tender.

The scheme will introduce a new reusable cup containing around 70% less plastic than current reusable merchandise and a unique insulation structure allowing it to be used for both hot and cold drinks without the need for an outer sleeve.

The announcement builds on Starbucks ambition to reduce single-use waste which in the UK has included the pioneering 5p charge on disposable cups. The income generated through this charge has been used by Hubbub to invest in campaigns across the UK boosting reuse, creating new recycling infrastructure, tackling littering and promoting the circular economy.

As a result of the introduction of the cup charge, the take-up of reusable cups in Starbucks outlets has more than doubled and trial reuse schemes have been run at Gatwick Airport and in Manchester. Pioneering new coffee cup recycling facilities have secured grants of between £50,000 - £100,000 allowing enhanced cup recycling facilities in 16 locations across the UK including mainline railway stations.

To cut littering a boat, the Poly Roger, constructed from over 90% recycled plastic has made 55 ‘plastic fishing’ trips. These have allowed volunteers to collect over 192 bags of litter from the waters around London’s docklands.

To demonstrate the potential of the circular economy 10,000 ‘Give it a Grow’ kits made from recycled coffee cups and containing discarded coffee grounds provided Londoners everything they needed to start growing in their homes.

These initiatives build on Starbucks in-store activation which has included establishing recycling facilities, offering ceramics and providing a discount for customers bringing their own reuse cups.

Commenting on their new commitments Duncan Moir, president of 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”.

Hubbub will be working with the company to effectively design, implement and evaluate the impact of the trial. This will seek to overcome the barriers that exist for widespread take-up of reusable cups which were highlighted through public polling Hubbub commissioned in 2019 which revealed that:

  • 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.

Building on this insight, Hubbub is seeking to help Starbucks use their scale and influence to chart a new way forward that could transform the entire industry. We will keep you informed of progress.

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