Starbucks cups are a ubiquitous part of the landscape. They’re also omnipresent in landfills.
Coffee cups from Starbucks (and other coffee shops) are not currently accepted by most recyclers because of their plastic lining and food contamination which means most of these cups are used once and then trashed. But through test markets in Toronto, Seattle, New York, and Chicago, Starbucks is working to prove that the paper cups used in their coffee shops can be safely recycled.
Jim Hanna, Starbucks’ director of environmental impact says that the key to making paper recycling successful is to make it valuable regionally. Hanna believes that it is Starbucks’ job to “prove there is significant value” in the recycling of paper cups. In an effort to show this value, Starbucks has hosted cup summits to show recyclers that an investment in existing technology that can separate the plastic lining from the cup and remove food contamination is a sound one.
If more recyclers begin to take coated coffee cups, the 58 billion of them used each year in the US won’t wind up in landfills. Starbucks plans to use only cups made from recycled materials by 2015.