Topics in this article

Starbucks is bringing back its reusable cup program — with a ‘contactless’ spin

By MixDex Article may include affiliate links

Starbucks will bring back its “bring your own” reusable cup program June 22, 2021, after suspending it in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic — but with some changes.

First, the program is only being offered in store to start — so drive thru orders aren’t eligible.

When the program resumes, customers looking to use their own reusable cup will be handed a ceramic cup and asked to place their travel mug or other vessel in it. Customers will also be required to hold on to the lid, if applicable.

The staff will then will only touch the ceramic mug while preparing the drink and handing it back to the customer, who can then retrieve their travel mug by touching only it (and not the ceramic mug) and placing the lid on themselves.

The barista will hold on to the ceramic mug, which will presumably be cleaned and reused in the same for the next customer.

This process is designed to be “contactless” and prevent employees from touching any surface the customer will eventually touch. Essentially Starbucks is the using a ceramic mug as an outer “case” or barrier of sorts.

In addition to bringing back the program, Starbucks will once again offer a 10 cent discount to customers bringing in their own containers under the program.

Starbucks notably become one of a growing list of high profile national retailers that stopped requiring customers to wear face coverings if they are fully vaccinated.

Starbucks’ paper hot beverage cups are notably not recyclable due to the lining applied to the inside (unlike rival Dunkin’ Donuts’ cups, which are billed as fully recyclable), so many earth-conscious customers preferred bringing in their own, washable containers for beverages.

The 10 cent discount also helped customers save a little and encourage reusable cups, as well as representing at least a portion of the savings Starbucks realized by not providing a single use cup.

At many foodservice outlets, the cost of providing a disposable cup is a huge part of the price — with soft drinks at high volume retailers often costing less than the cup it comes in.