Starbucks brings reusable cups to Asia, expanding sustainability initiative

Starbucks has been stepping up its sustainability initiative, with the Earth Day launch of reusable hot and cold cups in Asia, aiming to encourage reusability and inspire its customers to make more sustainable choices all year long.

The reusable cup’s appearance is nearly identical to Starbucks iconic white cup, yet is made from polypropylene. It is specially designed to make the cup sturdier than paper but thinner than a typical tumbler and is a more widely accepted plastic for standard recycling infrastructures. Customers will receive a "bring-your-own-tumbler" discount for each purchase made with a reusable cup.

Starbucks has been rolling out the reusable cup in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. since 2014, with the company selling more than 25 million globally so far. The reusable cups are now also available at Starbucks locations across Australia, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and select stores in Japan.

“We know our customers are increasingly passionate about sustainability across Asia. We’re proud to provide a reusable option in Starbucks stores across the region to give customers a more sustainable choice when enjoying their coffee on-the-go,” said Peter Choy, vice president of Supply Chain Operations, Starbucks Asia Pacific. “While there is still more we can do, we’re excited to work with others to find global solutions and encourage our customers to choose reusability whenever possible.”

Last year, Starbucks committed US$10 million to develop a fully recyclable and compostable hot cup, in partnership with Closed Loop Partners (through the NextGen Cup Challenge) and just announced plans to trial cup technologies in several markets worldwide over the next year.

The company is also working to phase out plastic straws from its more than 30,000 stores worldwide by 2020, aiming to eliminate more than 1 billion straws a year – a goal that was announced last July. In early April, over 200 Starbucks stores in Hong Kong and Macau replaced plastic straws with paper alternatives and wooden stirrers.

Plastic straws will also be replaced by a newly redesigned, lightweight recyclable strawless lid that will begin rolling out this summer to select cities.