Starbucks New Sustainable Cold Cups Push to a Greener Footprint

starbucks brew lineup of cold cups

(Credit: Starbucks)

by | Apr 18, 2024

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Starbucks is escalating its commitment to environmental sustainability with the launch of its newly designed single-use cold cups. This initiative is part of the company’s ambitious goal to halve its carbon, water, and waste footprint by 2030. It aims to ensure that all customer packaging becomes reusable, recyclable, or compostable within the same timeframe.

The Road to Sustainable Packaging

The reimagined cold cups, rolling out in select stores across the U.S. and Canada this month, are the latest in a series of sustainable packaging advancements from Starbucks. These cups incorporate up to 20% less plastic, aligning with the company’s broader environmental objectives. Previous efforts have included the introduction of hot cups made with 30% recycled materials, strawless lids, and sleeves crafted from recycled content.

Designed at the Tryer Center, Starbucks’ innovation hub in Seattle, the new cold cups result from extensive research and testing. Kyle Walker, a senior packaging engineer at Starbucks and a passionate environmental advocate, shared insights on the rigorous process to ensure the new cups maintain durability while reducing plastic use. “To work on a project like this that has an impact on our footprint is just a very meaningful thing for me,” said Walker. These cups are estimated to keep over 13.5 million pounds of plastic out of landfills annually and are expected to save on emissions and water used in their production.

Enhancing Efficiency and Accessibility

Feedback from store partners and customer surveys significantly influenced the redesign of the cups. The new models boast several accessibility features, including raised dots and embossed letters to aid those with low vision. They also feature consistent lid sizes for the tall, grande, and venti options, optimizing storage space and reducing operational clutter in stores. The color-coded sleeves further assist in quick identification.

In addition to its innovations in single-use cups, Starbucks continues to encourage reusable cups. Since allowing customers to bring their personal cups to any of its locations nationwide—a first among national retail coffeehouses—the company has observed significant engagement, with nearly 400,000 Starbucks Rewards members participating. This initiative represents a crucial step in Starbucks’ strategy to foster consumer behavior change towards more sustainable practices. 


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