If you’re standing on a street corner in downtown Vancouver as you read this, look up from your screen and odds are you’ll spot a Starbucks coffee cup before taking another step. The Seattle-based coffee giant’s white and green containers are ubiquitous in Vancouver, and now a little better for the planet.
Something a lot of Starbucks consumers might not know about the company’s hot-coffee cups is that, while made primarily of paper, they’re difficult to recycle and not entirely compostable, either. Historically, the cups’ inner lining consists of plastic polyethylene, which takes hundreds of years to break down.
Now, starting today (March 9) in Vancouver, Starbucks will serve hot beverages in a new paper cup that’s lined with a more compostable materials that’s easier to recycle, called BioPBS.
“This month, Starbucks begins its first market tests of a recyclable and compostable hot cup solution as part of the NextGen Cup Challenge, which seeks to address single-use packaging waste by developing an industry-wide recyclable and compostable to-go cup solution,” reads a March 9 media release.
Starbucks’s NextGen Cup Challenge began with a design competition several years ago. Vancouver was selected to participate in live-market tests in March 2019.
In addition to Vancouver, similar market tests are underway in Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, and London, England.
While the change is good news for the planet, the company intends for it to actually have little direct impact on customers.
“The tests are designed to provide key insights and learnings into the partner (employee) and customer in-store experience with the goal of no noticeable differences in performance between the new cup and current cup,” the release continues. “In addition, in conjunction with Closed Loop Partners, Starbucks is conducting separate tests designed to validate that this particular cup technology can be recycled more readily than the current cup.”
Starbucks’s “journey to develop a more recyclable and compostable hot cup solution” is expected to expand to additional cities in 2022.