25 million old Starbucks cups are new again

Think about this with your morning joe: Starbucks has recently made a statement – by recycling their own coffee cups back into their own coffee cups.


Earlier this year, Starbucks sent 25 million old cups to a recycling mill in Wisconsin. The mill recycled those cups, which were old stock cups that would have been otherwise destined for a landfill, into new Starbucks cups, ready to use once again.

A solution is needed to tossing 6 billion cups a year

The act of recycling their own cups allowed Starbucks to make clear that it’s possible to recycle poly-coated paperboard, which is the kind of paper their cups are made of, in a cost-effective manner. Starbucks cups are lined in a thin coating of plastic to prevent leakage, however, the material isn’t widely accepted for recycling due to the process of removing the plastic lining.

Not every city is set up to accept such cups for recycling – a difficulty for Starbucks, which wants a national approach to accepting its cups. By getting more recyclers to work with them, Starbucks could begin to eliminate the staggering 6 billion cups sent to a landfill each year. The coffee chain has been criticized as a “Cup Monster” by environmental groups.

Currently, a Starbucks coffee cup contains 10% recycled paper; the company wants to double that by 2022.