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Starbucks launches ‘Borrow A Cup’ trial with reusable cups for Earth Month. Here’s how it works

Starbucks launches 'Borrow A Cup' trial with reusable cups for Earth Month. Here's how it works


Starbucks launches ‘Borrow A Cup’ trial with reusable cups for Earth Month. Here’s how it works

More than a year after Starbucks stopped allowing consumers to bring in reusable cups in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the coffee giant said Tuesday that it is looking to go greener.No, you can’t bring your own cup back in yet, but Starbucks announced the Earth Month launch of the “Borrow A Cup” trial program in five Seattle stores. The program runs through May 31.The trial allows customers to order their beverage in a reusable cup for a $1 deposit. When they return the cups at a participating store’s contactless kiosk, or at-home through a Seattle-area service called Ridwell, they’ll get the $1 back and 10 rewards points through the chain’s loyalty program. The cups are then professionally cleaned and sterilized.Save better, spend better:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up hereEach borrowed cup replaces up to 30 disposable cups, Starbucks said, noting that it’s part of the company’s goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030. Technically, the company said its current mix of paper and plastic cups “can be recycled under the right circumstances,” but can be used only once.Americans use 120 billion disposable coffee cups each year, the Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund estimates. The inner plastic coating in the cups often prevents them from being recyclable.Krispy Kreme’s new sweet treat: New Oreo cookie donuts with Oreo glaze are available for a limited time nationwideMcDonald’s new dessert is coming soon: McDonald’s adding Caramel Brownie McFlurry at restaurants nationwide starting May 3“We believe it is our responsibility to reduce single use cup waste,” Starbucks chief sustainability officer Michael Kobori said in a statement. “We will lead the transition to a circular economy.”COVID leads to reusable cup, bag bansUntil the pandemic and since the 1980s, Starbucks says it has allowed consumers to bring in their own cups or drink in the restaurant’s reusable “For Here Ware” and get a discount.Coffee cups weren’t the only reusable item pushed aside during the pandemic.Initially, plastic bags reemerged after some retailers temporarily banned reusable bags as they were associated with possibly spreading the virus, and single-use plastic bags were seen as less likely to carry disease. Several states, including California, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and New York, took steps to delay, weaken or reverse laws banning plastic bags. Reusable bags are allowed again with some exceptions.Costco is currently “allowing members to use their own reusable shopping bags as long as they pack the bags themselves,” according to its coronavirus updates page.Sustainable coffee cupStarbucks has been working toward a more sustainable cup for years, and in 2018, along with McDonald’s, committed $10 million in partnership with Closed Loop Partners to establish the NextGen Consortium and Cup Challenge.The company also has been doing research and testing solutions to make cups, lids and straws easier to recycle and compost.”Starbucks is helping to pave the way for a waste-free future for the foodservice industry,” Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, said in a statement.If the Borrow A Cup trial is successful, it could be expanded.Starbucks told USA TODAY that it is a limited trial that the company plans “to learn from, adapt and scale based on our learnings.”And is it possible personal cups will one day be accepted again?”The decision to pause personal cup use was made early in the pandemic and continues today as the health and well-being of our partners and customers remains top of mind and our highest priority,” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY.Contributing: Nathan Bomey, USA TODAYFollow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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