Starbucks Will Allow Customers to Use Their Own Cups Again

The program that comes with a 10 cent discount will resume this June after being put on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the largest coffee chain on the planet, Starbucks closures served as an early harbinger of the eventual impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives. But as America continues to emerge from the grips of coronavirus, some fresh Starbucks news could also serve as a sign that normality is truly near: The chain has announced that they will once again allow customers to bring in their own reusable cups—a long-standing policy the company suspended in March 2020 due to coronavirus concerns—starting on June 22.

Of course, life will probably never be exactly as it was before the pandemic, and Starbucks' reusable cup policy—at least for now—is no exception. "As part of Starbucks ongoing commitment to prioritizing partner and customer safety, the company developed a completely contactless, new method—eliminating any shared touch points between the customer and Starbucks partners (baristas)," the company explained in the announcement yesterday, adding that the system underwent "extensive trials" in other parts of the world.

Starbucks bring your own cup process

With the new system, customers must arrive with already cleaned cups which will then be placed in a ceramic mug. The Starbucks barista will make drinks while holding only the mug, and then the mug will be brought back to the customer who will remove their cup themselves. Essentially, the ceramic cups are serving as a glorified tray for baristas to use to handle your cup—or you can just watch a video of the whole system going down on Starbucks' website.

Starbucks bring your own cup process

Additionally, Starbucks warns that they are "currently testing safe options for allowing personal reusable cups via the drive thru, but for now personal reusable cups will only be accepted in stores." But speaking of in-store, Starbucks also says they are bringing back washable "For Here Ware" to further reduce waste for dine-in (or just drink-in) customers.

And finally, one thing that's definitely staying the same: Starbucks will continue to offer their 10 cent discount for customers who choose reusable cups—something the chain has been doing since 1985. "Bringing back personal reusable cups is a key part of Starbucks' ongoing commitment to reduce single-use cup waste and goal to reduce waste by 50 percent by 2030," the company stated.

Meanwhile, Starbucks also mentioned that they're still hard at work seeking out other alternatives to single-use cups: Most recently, earlier this year, the chain trialed a new "Borrow A Cup" program that allowed customers to take away and return reusable cups (kind of library book-style) at five locations in Seattle.

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