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Starbucks Is Making a Major Change to Its Cups

The coffee chain has redesigned its cold cups with an eye toward sustainability and reducing plastic waste.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

The next time you visit Starbucks, your drink may be served in a new and improved cup. On April 18, just a few days ahead of Earth Day, the coffee giant unveiled its new lineup of single-use cold cups, which were created to be more sustainable.

According to the company's announcement, the redesigned cups are made with 10 to 20 percent less plastic, depending on the size, when compared to the previous versions. Starbucks created this new lineup as part of its efforts to cut its carbon, water, and waste footprints in half by 2030.

The coffee chain is introducing the cups at select stores in the U.S. and Canada this month and plans to complete the full rollout over the next year.

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starbucks tall, grande, and venti plastic cups and lid on a wooden table
Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks said this redesign will keep 13.5 million pounds of plastic out of landfills each year. Additionally, the coffee chain expects the cups to decrease emissions, conserve water in the production process, and simplify the workload for employees because there will be fewer lid combinations.

Grande and venti cups already used the same lid size, but now the redesigned tall cups will feature a wider mouth and profile, so they still hold 12 ounces but can use the same lid. Trenta cups will still require a different lid.

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Previously, Starbucks employees had to store and stock multiple lids separately, which the chain said "created clutter and took up valuable shelf space." Now, the new cups will be color-coded and no longer packaged in clear bags to assist with size identification.

Starbucks created its new cold cups at the Tryer Center, its innovation lab in Seattle, and noted that baristas made drinks in test and store settings. The baristas rated the iterations' feel and performance, while customers completed surveys via QR codes.

Beyond using less plastic, the new cups will also include some accessibility features. These include raised dots, which will indicate sizes for those with impaired vision. There will also be embossed letters on the bottom to signify to the barista what cup they're grabbing, as well as black and white "fill lines" to assist with measurements.

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close-up of starbucks cold cup with measurement lines
Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks has deployed multiple sustainability efforts over the years. In January, the company announced that it would accept reusable cups for all orders at company-operated and participating licensed stores in the U.S. and Canada. In 2019, the chain also introduced strawless lids.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna
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