Starbucks Ditches All Non-Recyclablesby Gennefer Gross on Wednesday, Apr 1st, 2009 ShareClick to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Two years ago today…Gives Every Customer Free, Refillable Travel Mug (Will Now Charge $1.25 Per Disposable Cup) In a nationwide effort to green their retail locations, Starbucks announced today that it would be doing away with all of its non-recyclable cups, and giving customers free, refillable travel mugs. Starbucks goes through roughly 2.3 billion cups per year and has taken heat from several environmental groups since the plastic coating keeps them from being recycled with other paper products, contributing to massive amounts of landfill waste. They’ve also been scrutinized over the fact that the cardboard sleeve for hot beverages touts “Help Us Help the Planet,” which ironically, is only 10% recyclable. But none of that matters now that Starbucks has made a clean sweep of all their stores, replacing the plastic-coated cups with green refillable mugs, proudly showcasing the Starbucks logo. The new mugs will be given away free of charge with purchase, but Starbucks will be raising the cost of their specialty coffee and tea beverages by 20% to offset production costs. In addition, any patrons who request a disposable cup will be charged an additional $1.25 convenience fee. When asked why they didn’t simply replace the cups with 100% recyclable materials, a representative of the company commented, “We considered that option, but then in addition to having to replace those disposable cups on a regular basis, we’d also have to bring in recycle bins which are very big and unsightly, don’t match our decor and detract from the full Starbucks experience.” Starbucks expects to roll out the mugs in all locations by early summer, and a source has indicated that they are also working on some proprietary technology that will prevent the mugs from being filled with any competitor coffee, and will be equipped with a GPS tracking system that will emit an alarm whenever a customer is within a 3-mile radius of a Starbucks to promote refill visits. “We want to make it as easy as possible for our loyal customers to get their hands on Starbucks coffee throughout their day,” continued a company representative, “and with the money that we’ll be making with our new mugs, we’ll finally be able to open locations on the moon and in space stations throughout the galaxy.” Beyond the mugs, Starbucks doesn’t appear to have any additional plans to green their practices, but press officials have stated that they’re fairly confident their carbon footprint in outer space is non-existent, and are putting measures in place to maintain that. It will be interesting to see how people respond to the travel mugs and resulting price increases, but one thing’s for certain, their customers will now only be one short wave radio emission away. Gennefer Gross is a writer, producer and co-founder of Gross Factor Productions, an independent film and television company focused on scripted comedy. An avid writer, author and idea cultivator, Gennefer thrives on creativity and contributes regularly to Triple Pundit on a variety of sustainable business topics. She also pens the popular series Hollywood & Green, exploring socially responsible cinema that helps connect consumers with important causes and environmental issues. And somehow she finds the time to write for her own blog, Tasty Beautiful, covering food and fashion in and around Los Angeles. Gennefer will also be launching Philanthrofoodie(TM), a charitable venture designed to spark social change through shared food experiences. An eternal student of life with an eclectic background, Gennefer brings unique insights on everything from breakthroughs in renewable energy to the latest dish in celebrity consciousness. Follow Gennefer Gross @Gennefer 4 responses My thought is that if I had one of those coffee mugs and I was driving around with it, the thing would constantly be beeping at me to go get more coffee! Where I live you are always within 3 miles of a Starbucks. That’s ridiculous. The way to promote refill visits would be to give a discount whenever someone brings in their mugs. This way, people will leave their mugs home because of the annoying beep and just get a new one. Won’t that be another one for the landfill, worse than bottled water! If Starbucks doesn’t believe people will come in because they have a mug and like their coffee, then they are in the wrong business. With the extra money they are making, they can afford the discount, not big brother is watching what coffee you drink. What will it do if you have the wrong coffee, shock you? This does not sound like making it as easy as possible, it sounds very controlling. I hope this is an April Fool’s joke…because this is downright scary! Debbie has a point. People would be more enticed to bring their mugs if there’s a discount. On the other hand, what a nice April Fool’s joke. Yes, I know it’s an April fool, and clearly the stuff about GPS and smart chips is patent nonsense, but isn’t there the germ of a viable idea here? Offering free refillable (branded, of course) travel mugs and charging for disposable cups would be a proper step towards increased sustainability, with huge positive PR spin-off. Go on Starbucks – I dare you! Comments are closed.