Starbucks Looks to Recycle Billions of Cups

Starbucks is looking at how to deal with the disposable cup waste it generates. (Photo: Keiichi Yasu [CC BY SA-2.0]/Flickr)

Last week, Starbucks held a Cup Summit, according to Green Biz. A Cup Summit? Yep.

Starbucks invited “30 cup, cupstock and coating manufacturers, recyclers, waste managers and university researchers to Seattle” to talk about recyclable cups. Each year, coffee drinkers dispose of more 200 billion paper coffee cups, and 3 billion of them come from Starbucks.

Ben Packard, Starbucks vice president of Global Responsibility, wants to change that and make sure that all the companies cups are easily recyclable by 2012.

Topics that were addressed at the cup summit:

  • The fact that many of Starbucks’ cups are already recyclable but often aren’t
  • How cups can be collected and turned into pizza boxes within three days
  • Sorting recyclable cups from waste that isn’t meant to be recycled
  • Future cold cup recycling opportunities

It’s good that as a corporation, Starbucks sees its responsibilities on this issue. I think that consumers need to see their responsibility on this issue, too, though.

The easiest way to keep disposable coffee cups out of landfills is to not use them. There are hundreds of reusable travel coffee mugs on the market that can be purchased for under $20. Most workers in coffee shops (also known as baristas as they are called in hip coffee shops) are more than happy to take a minute to rinse out your reusable mug if it needs it. One reusable coffee mug can keep hundreds of paper cups out of landfills each year.