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Starbucks is redesigning its plastic cups

(CNN) — Next time you order iced coffee at… Starbucks It may not seem different, but there is actually a big change.

The chain announced Thursday that the plastic cups for all sizes of its cold drinks have undergone an environmentally conscious redesign because it uses up to 20% less plastic than the current version. The redesign is the company's latest effort to reduce the environmental impact of its cups, which have been criticized for accumulating waste.

The new cups were developed within Starbucks as part of an ongoing sustainability effort to halve its waste and carbon production by 2030. Like other large companies, the chain wants to reduce its reliance on plastic because the material is primarily made from the polymers it is made from. with Dangerous fossil fuels.

The new cups will debut in select locations in the US and Canada this year, with full deployment expected to be completed by spring 2025.

In addition to using less plastic for the cups themselves — Starbucks expects the new cups will save more than 6,100 tons (13.5 million pounds) of plastic from landfills annually — “they are expected to reduce emissions and conserve water in the production process.” The chain said.

Starbucks said it conducted tests with baristas and customers to ensure the change does not reduce the strength of the cups or the ability to keep drinks cold.

New black and white “fill lines” added. Credit: Connor Sordi / Courtesy of Starbucks.

Minor design tweaks include the addition of new accessibility features, including black and white “fill stripes” that allow for contrast with light and dark colored beverages.

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Another change is that the Tall, Large and Vented Cups, three of the sizes the company offers, now use the same lid size. Previously, the tall glass used its own lid, and the jug and venti shared the same lid.

For employees, this will reduce clutter and save time finding the right cover. Starbucks also said it has added raised lettering to the bottom of the cup, so “baristas can quickly ascertain which size they are grabbing during a rush when all cups are stacked upside down.”

Starbucks notes that its largest size, the Trenta, which holds 31 ounces (900 ml), will continue to use a different cap size.

The fight for sustainability

Cups (and the waste they generate) have always been a big problem for Starbucks.

In January, the chain expanded the way customers can fill their drinks with their own cups by adding drive-thru and app ordering.

Another sustainable idea that Starbucks has tried is… Glass loanwhere customers pay a deposit for each durable glass they take with them and return after use.

In 2021, at a test site in Seattle, customers paid a $1 deposit and had to return the recyclable cup to the store's smart recycle bin to get their dollar back. The company has already tested similar pilot programs in Japan, Singapore and the UK.

However, these tests and changes are not enough to solve the “plastic crisis,” according to Emma Priestland, global corporate campaigns coordinator at Freedom from plastic.

“While the world urgently needs to reduce plastic production for the sake of the environment, from the perspective of waste management and the amount of plastic pollution entering the environment, simply reducing the amount of plastic while maintaining the same amount of plastic is not a good solution,” he told CNN. .

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Priestland suggests that Starbucks develop reusable and returnable cups to help it fully meet its sustainability goals.