Will coffee drinkers miss single-use cups?
Blue Bottle, the coffee chain, is ditching paper cups at two San Francisco locations as a test of nationwide “zero single-use cup” rollout.
To-go customers will bring their own mug or pay a deposit for a reusable cup, which can be kept or returned for a refund. The deposit fee will likely be between $3 and $5.
Blue Bottle’s CEO Bryan Meehan wrote in a blog entry, “Since disposables were introduced in the 1950s, we have grown accustomed to a disposable life, with little thought as to what happens to the materials we use after we throw them in the trash.”
The 93-unit chain, acquired by Nestle in 2017, is the largest to experiment with eliminating single-use cups. Paper cups supporting hot drinks require plastic linings to prevent leakage and that makes them hard to recycle. Some disposable options will be available after concerns expressed by groups representing disabled individuals.
The San Francisco Bay area is where many eco-trends start. In Berkeley, new laws starting in January require cafes and restaurants to charge 25 cents for disposable cups. In response, the Associated Press noted that about a dozen Berkeley cafes teamed up in a mug-sharing program.
Among larger chains, Starbucks has long offered a 10-cent discount on beverages if consumers bring their own vessel. The bigger effort from national chains is developing a recyclable and compostable coffee cup with both Starbucks and McDonald’s partnering on the effort.
In the blog, however, Mr. Meehan wrote that “recycling alone can’t solve this problem” and the focus has to be on reduce and reuse.
Each Blue Bottle in the U.S. goes through 15,000 disposable single-use cups per cafe monthly. Even though the chain’s bioplastic cups and straws were 100 percent compostable, too many ended up in landfills, where they don’t break down. Blue Bottle also found a switch to paper straws and sugarcane-paper cups was not enough.
“We expect to lose some business,” Mr. Meehan wrote of the test. “But the time has come to step up and do difficult things. It’s our responsibility to the next generation to change our behavior.”
- How climate change is inspiring us to waste less and do more – Blue Bottle
- San Francisco cafes are banishing disposable coffee cups – The Associated Press
- Blue Bottle Coffee pledges to go ‘zero waste’ by end of 2020 – San Francisco Chronicle
- Blue Bottle Coffee has done away with plastic cups at all its stores – Yahoo Finance
- Blue Bottle wants you to bring your own coffee cup—or pay up – Fast Company
- Should stores charge customers extra to use disposable cups? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect a sizable backlash from consumers hearing there’s no single-use cup option when buying coffee? What lessons can be taken from efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags, plastic straws and other single-use items?