If you have been feeling some guilt over your single-use coffee cup count, Starbucks has a potential solution: the coffee chain has announced a new environmentally friendly cup initiative, with test runs beginning in Vancouver today.

The new cups are BioPBS™-lined, with the aim to be easily recyclable and reduce waste. According to a press release, customers shouldn’t notice a difference in the cup quality. The brand is working with stakeholders in the recycling industry to ensure the new cups are able to be recycled within all municipalities. The goal is to have the cups circulating by 2022, with test runs also currently taking place in Seattle, San Francisco, London and New York.

Though the single-use cups Starbucks currently uses were designed to be recyclable, recycling standards vary from city to city. For example, Starbucks cups are not able to be recycled in Toronto, however, they are recycled in some municipalities in Alberta and British Columbia. (Note: Starbucks does offer in-store recycling for its cups. So if you purchase coffee at Starbucks in Toronto, then put the cup in the recycling bin in-store, it would be recycled.)

The new BioPBS-lined cups are a result of the NextGen Cup Challenge – a competition which challenged designers to create a compostable and/or widely recyclable cup. Starbucks, McDonald’s and Wendy’s are among the investors on board to implement the sustainably designed cup.

Starbucks also sells reusable hot and cold coffee cups for those wanting to avoid single-use cups entirely. However, reuseable cups are currently not being accepted at Starbucks locations due to health and safety precautions as Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads globally; a PR representative tells us that Starbucks is hopeful that this is a temporary solution.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson announced plans for company-wide sustainability efforts back in January: “Our aspiration is to become resource positive – storing more carbon than we emit, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than we use.”


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