Bringing Reusable Cups Back to Starbucks

Learn how your Starbucks order can help Ocean Conservancy’s mission

By now, we all know the damage single-use items can do to our ocean and the creatures that call it home. That’s why thousands of people have taken Ocean Conservancy’s pledges to reduce waste in their daily lives by skipping the straw and quitting the cutlery.

With more than 11 million metric tons of plastic entering our ocean every year, we need a sea change in our relationship with single-use items. By far the biggest part of the solution must come from industry producing less plastic, companies changing packaging and serving formats and governments improving recycling standards. But it will also require some changes in consumer behavior. Many companies are experimenting with refillable models, which allow customers to bring in and reuse packaging time and time again. And individuals are taking steps—like carrying a reusable water bottle or bringing in their own cup for their morning coffee—to reduce their personal impact on our ocean.

Actions like these are small but important steps towards a future that will inevitably include more circular systems. A truly circular economy will help tackle the climate crisis, reduce plastic in our ocean and allow all of us to make more durable choices in our everyday lives.

That’s why we’re excited to partner with Starbucks as it allows reusable cups back into stores after pausing this option due to the global coronavirus pandemic. From August 3 through August 16, for every reusable cup brought into its stores, Starbucks will donate a dollar to Ocean Conservancy, up to one million dollars. Customer adoption of reusable cups is one part of Starbucks’ ongoing commitment to reduce single-use cup waste and their goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030.


Companies like Starbucks have a major role to play in reducing ocean trash—specifically when it comes to plastic pollution. Single-use cups and lids are among the most common types of trash found on our beaches: on a single day in 2019, International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) volunteers collected more than a million plastic beverage cups and lids globally.

Starbucks has long been taking steps to address their impact on our ocean. In 2018, they began to phase out the plastic drinking straw from their stores, and in 2020 they began market testing a hot cup made with more recyclable and compostable materials as part of the NextGen Cup Challenge. Starbucks is also a member of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance® where they engage in collaborative efforts to reduce ocean plastic pollution.

By encouraging customers to bring in their own clean, reusable cups, Starbucks is helping to reduce the amount of waste produced in their stores and is giving their customers a simple way to help the ocean. Whether you order a green tea, a chai latte or (my personal favorite) a dark roast coffee with a shot, as long as your drink is ordered to be served in a reusable cup in Starbucks stores, proceeds will go towards helping to protect our blue planet. With the support of Starbucks, Ocean Conservancy will scale up our ICC efforts, improve recycling systems in key areas and install trash capture devices in debris hotspots and critical ecosystems.

One cup skipped may not seem like it matters much, but trust me–as someone who spends countless hours every year at beach cleanups, I know that every single step we take together makes a huge difference for our ocean.

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