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Ovation: To Cut Down On Waste, Starbucks Offers Reusable Cups For Only One Dollar.

01/05/2013
Starbucks reusable cups cost only one dollar.

Starbucks reusable cups cost only one dollar.

One of my guilty pleasures is a large Diet Coke from McDonalds.  They only charge one dollar for a big Styrofoam cup and, if you “dine in”, you’re allowed to customize your own ice-to-soda ratio.  Plus, I think they have the best straws … far sturdier than other fast food restaurants.  Plus, I always take a refill with me to go … sometimes reusing the cup for a day or more.  The company is very clear about its policy limiting soft drink refills to “this visit only”.  They, of course, don’t want you to bring your cup back and use it again.  I’ve always thought that they should encourage the reuse of their cups.

Many theater chains sell plastic buckets that customers can bring with them each time they return to see a movie to purchase popcorn refills at a reduced price.  For years, quick marts and gas stations across the nation have been selling reusable travel mugs with their names on them to encourage customers to return for discounted coffee while they purchase fuel.

And now, finally, Starbucks has jumped on the band wagon.  Starbucks customers now have the option to save the planet and a little bit of money by purchasing reusable plastic cups for only one dollar.  Customers who remember to bring their cups with them will receive a ten-cent discount off their refill.

While the company has sold reusable cups and glasses for some time and offered the ten-cent discount, it is expected that the low price of the new plastic cups will encourage customers to take action more frequently.  Company-wide, Starbucks is said to generate approximately four billion cups each year around the world.  According to a 2011 report issued by Starbucks, that year, customers re-used cups that they had purchased more than thirty-four million times … nearly two percent of all beverages served in company-owned stores around the globe.

The reusable cups, made in China, have fill lines inside denoting “tall,” “grande” and “venti”-sized drinks.  Baristas rinse each cup with boiling water before refilling them to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.  Surely, there will be a period of time during which customers learn to use the new cups.  Perhaps time will be saved by having the order already written on the cup or, at the very least, a name already printed.

Of course, the efficiency of the new process will fall primarily into the hands of customers.

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9 Comments
  1. I voted yes but I already used my other Starbucks Reusable cups when I know I’m going there. Half the time it’s an impulse purchase.

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  2. I believe in the concept of reusing cups, and would like to see more places do it. The sanitary issues need to be carefully addressed, though.

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    • When I was young, anything that was sold in a bottle (and sometimes a can) was subject to a deposit so we brought back the “empties” all the time! I’d like to see us implement a system that motivates everyone to recycle and reuse as a matter of practice.

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      • Heck, that’s how I got through my childhood craving for chocolate; bringing empties back to the store!

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  3. I make my coffee at home, use a re-usable travel cup and save $4 just about every day. I am virtuous.

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  4. I think it is a great idea. People will respond acccordingly.

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