Last week, Starbucks rolled out a heavily-discounted reusable cup to encourage recycling across its U.S. and Canadian stores. The plastic cups, which sell for just $1, hold tall or grande drinks, and net customers a 10-cent discount with every coffee, which means the cups will pay for themselves after just 10 drinks. The recyclable mugs will be cleaned with boiling water before being refilled. Of course, customers have long been able to receive the ten-cent discount with any mug they bring in.
The move is a welcome shift for the mega-chain, as it strives to reduce waste across its stores. In 2011, just 2 per cent of customers brought reusable mugs, but the company hopes to increase that to 5 per cent by 2015. While it’s still a small percentage of their business, it’s a healthy start to what will hopefully eventually be standard practice across the industry. Interestingly, Starbucks’ initial goal was 25 per cent recycled cups by 2015. They cite problems tracking their ‘for here serveware’ as contributing to the readjusted goal. They also cite the fact that the majority of their beverage business is takeaway.
Meanwhile, it’s worthwhile to note that customers drinking their beverages in-store can opt for ceramic mugs where available. It’s little publicized, but a much more civilized way to drink your coffee. So if you plan on sipping your pumpkin spice latté in-store, get it in a proper mug.
Overall, the key to getting customers to remember their mugs is ‘incentivizing’ the practice enough to create habit. To that effect, Starbucks efforts, while small, are great first steps in the path to getting people to pack mugs when they pack for their day. If you’re keen to get in the habit, put a small note on your keys, wallet or phone to remind yourself to grab your mug as you dash out the door en route to work. It’s 10-cents and a little bit of waste diverted every time you enjoy a drink! Seems like a caffeinated no-brainer.