Starbucks Reusable Cup Green Initiative

Forbes writes that Starbucks' decision to introduce a $1 reusable cup, pitched as a way of cutting down in trash, also may be green in another sense:

"Besides winning Starbucks points with some environmentally minded consumers and possibly keeping tons of paper waste out of landfills, the program offers Starbucks a number of opportunities to grow sales ... The cups cost $1. When customers lose them, accidentally sit on and crush them, or forget to bring them back, that’s another $1. When they wear out — reports are they’re good for maybe a month if you don’t run them through the dishwasher — that’s another $1.

"How many bucks might that add up to? Many stores reported they were selling out of the cups, and a YouGov Omnibus snap poll taken at the beginning of the month showed 28 percent of Americans had purchased or planned to purchase one. There are 233 million Americans old enough to drink coffee, so that’s about $65 million dollars if each of those consumers only buys a reusable cup once. Given how well we all remember to bring our reusable grocery bags back to the store, Starbucks could easily see repeat sales of the cup and even more revenue."

Ironically, the environmental impact may be less significant, at least in the short-term. "The program’s environmental benefit is a question mark," Forbes writes, "as the cups’ #5 plastic is not easy to recycle — many curbside recycling programs won’t accept it. Maybe Starbucks will encourage more outlets to accept it, which would be a real plus. Knowing Starbucks, they’ll improve the program as they go, so a switch to a more easily recyclable material is also a future possibility."

-Stan

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