There's finally a worthy controversy about Starbucks cups, and it isn’t holiday-related.
It might be that the cups exist at all.
Starting in February in a few London stores, the coffee chain will charge five pence per disposable cup in an effort to combat waste.
The store estimates 2.5 billion of these cups are tossed every year in England alone. And while those java holders are supposedly recyclable, the company has faced some issues convincing various local and national governments of this fact.
As the Starbucks recycling page notes:
Starbucks faces a patchwork of recycling infrastructure and market conditions. Additionally, in many of our stores landlords control the waste collection and decide whether or not they want to provide recycling. These challenges require recycling programs be customized to each store and market and may limit our ability to offer recycling in some stores.
Government officials in the UK had already suggested a 25 pence charge and, by 2023, an outright ban on the cups. So there was some incentive here beyond environmental PR.
Will the charge work here? Well, given the chain's prices, you probably wouldn't notice unless you were directly asked. For proof, we can look at one U.S. city's stateside plastic bag bans/fees as a corollary. In San Jose — which has a single-use bag ban and charges 10 cents to buy recycled content paper bags (and tells you this before you checkout)— the average number of single-use bags used per customer decreased from 3 to 0.3 after their BYO bag ordinance passed.
So get yourself a mug or thermos — you can finally say your caffeine habit is doing some good.