Starbucks offering free reusable cups — plus a nice incentive to bring your own in the future

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In honor of Earth Day, Starbucks has announced a way for customers to get free reusable cups while also announcing an enhancement to its rewards program that encourages using non-single-use vessels.

Here’s how it will work. Customers who are members of Starbucks Rewards and use PayPal to reload their card or make at least a $5 purchase will get a coupon code for a free reusable cup now through April 30, 2022.

That PayPal requirement is important to note because funds from credit or debit cards won’t trigger the coupon.

The coupon will be valid until May 7, 2022, and will be valid on either a hot or cold reusable cup.

This offer won’t hook you up with the fancy travelers the chain offers, but rather is limited to rather basic — but functional — models.

The hot cup is designed to look like the chain’s iconic white cup — it’s just stronger and made of recycled plastic. Similarly, the cold version looks similar to the clear plastic cups the chain uses for cold drinks, but it’s done in semi-transparent plastic instead.

In addition, starting April 22, all Starbucks Rewards members will be eligible for a 10-cent discount plus 25 bonus stars each time they bring a clean, reusable cup in and use it for their order.

The cup can be any clean container — it doesn’t have to be one of the free ones.

Currently, customers earn two stars for every $1 spent via a digital card in the Starbucks app.

To put that in perspective, you’d need to spend about $12.50 to get 25 stars (assuming you use the app), so it’s a pretty lucrative offer.

This also means that you’ll be eligible for a free modifier after just one use of this offer — and only two uses to get a free hot brewed drink or bakery item.

Six orders will get you the 150 star level, which is good for handcrafted beverages, hot breakfast item or packaged snack.

Eight visits will get you a free packaged salad, lunch sandwich or protein box and 16 visits will get you up to $20 worth of bagged coffee or select merchandise.

These calculations only assume you’re using the bonus stars from reusing a cup and don’t include the points you’d get for the actual purchases.

The move is part of a companywide effort to cut down on single-use cups before they even enter the waste stream.

Other changes coming include efforts to redesign its hot drink paper cups to use less material and switching to compostable straws.

The new cups are expected in the fall of 2022.

Starbucks reusable cup program previously had an exception that meant stores would not refill cups branded with competitors’ names, though they could still give you the discount. It’s not immediately clear if that will continue to be the case as the terms and conditions of the program no longer directly mention this as of April 22 — but they also have not been updated to outline the new bonus star structure as of this writing.