Starbucks to Once Again Welcome Reusable Cups

Starting next week, customers can use tumblers for in-store refills, a practice the pandemic shelved.

June 15, 2021


SEATTLE—Starbucks customers can start using reusable cups at company-owned cafés starting on June 22, reports CNBC. The sustainability program was paused in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

This is another signal from restaurants and retailers that business is returning to normal as states relax restrictions. Last month, Starbucks and many other businesses stopped requiring fully vaccinated customers to wear masks in stores. Costco is bringing back in-store sampling, and Target has reopened its fitting rooms.

Only clean cups are accepted. When filling a customer’s own cup, the Starbucks barista will place the clean cup in a ceramic vessel, and the beverage is made without any contact with the cup. The customer then picks up the drink at the end of the counter as usual. Reusable cups are not accepted at drive-thru lanes, although the company is testing ways to do so safely at one Seattle location.

Prior to the health crisis, Starbucks had offered a 10-cent discount to customers who brought in their own cups, but few customers took advantage of the program.

Starbucks uses roughly seven billion disposable cups every year and is trying to reduce that number. The company is rolling out a circular cup program in South Korea this summer and plans to offer a reusable cup program across all locations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa by 2025.