Starbucks is going fully BYOC—as in “bring your own cup.”
The mega-chain announced Wednesday that it will allow customers to use their own personal vessels for nearly all drink orders in the United States and Canada as part of the company’s effort to reduce waste. People ordering at a drive-thru, over the Starbucks app or at a counter can now present their own cup for baristas to fill with the beverage of their choice.
Starbucks is creating an incentive for customers to eschew those signature green-emblemed single-use cups: Patrons using their own get a 10-cent discount, and in the United States, members of the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program get 25 “bonus stars.”
They’re inviting any kind of cup (even those from rival Dunkin’?), with a few conditions—the brought-from-home cups must be clean, and baristas won’t rinse them out for you. Mugs and cups can’t be larger than 40 oz., either. The new program isn’t a way for thirsty customers to game the system by bringing in a giant tumbler and ordering a “short” (a.k.a. 8 oz.) beverage: Starbucks workers will prepare the drinks in what looks like a large shaker, according to an image the company shared, “that has standardized lines” indicating various sizes.
“At Starbucks, we envision a future where every beverage can be served in a reusable cup,” Starbucks chief sustainability officer Michael Kobori said in an announcement on the company’s website. “Offering customers more options to use a personal cup when they visit Starbucks marks tangible progress towards the future.”
Starbucks previously had allowed patrons to go BYOC for in-person orders, but the move will expand the program to orders placed over the app and at drive-throughs. Licensed locations, such as those in grocery and other retail stores, may or may not be participating, the company said.
Starbucks has been experimenting with reusable cups for decades, including different ways to encourage customers to bring their own. In 2020, the chain announced ambitious goals for reducing its carbon emissions, water use and waste by 2030. Last year, it said it is aiming to stop using disposable cups by 2030.
Now, people ordering from their cars can let the staff know they have their own cup when placing their order. They will then hand it over “using a contactless vessel to ensure hygiene and safety” to be filled. Over the app, they can indicate the same using the “customization” button, and hand it over when they arrive at the store.
On social media, some patrons worried that the extra step would add time at the drive-thru line. “This will just create more carbon emissions with the longer waits, solve one problem and create another,” one posted on X.
Others worried about potential sanitation problems. “Yall know ppl nasty,” another wrote.
Of course, the announcement did include some fine print: The offer is valid only at “participating stores on in-store, drive-thru, or in-app beverage purchases only (max 3x per day).”