Recycling & Reducing Waste

Starbucks is committed to significantly reducing the waste our stores generate - especially when it comes to recycling.

We know this is important to our customers, to us and our planet. In fact, we get more customer comments about recycling, particularly our cups, than almost any other environmental issue.

Read the Report

To learn more about our work in recycling read our Global Responsibility Goals & Progress Report.

Recycling in Stores

In many of our stores, we recycle at least one type of waste – such as cardboard or milk jugs – where commercial recycling is available.  But that happens behind the counter, out of sight to customers. Recycling is dependent on the availability of commercial recycling services where our stores are located. Unfortunately, some local communities that offer comprehensive residential recycling may provide minimal or no commercial recycling. And for stores operating out of shared spaces, such as malls, it is often the landlords who control waste collection and recycling.

But even with those challenges, we are focused on what we can do and how we can work with others to make recycling easier for us and for our customers. We began offering front-of-house recycling in several markets in 2009, and since that time have introduced front-of-house recycling to stores in a number of key markets, including Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, San Diego, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver, with more to come.  In the U.S. we are working with mayors and local authorities in major cities to help increase or improve commercial recycling opportunities across the country.  We have also held three Cup Summits to bring together all the key players in our cups’ supply chain, to foster cooperation and improve the ability to recycle cups.

Greener Cups

Over the years Starbucks has launched several initiatives to decrease the environmental impact of our disposable cups. It is our goal of making 100 percent of our cups reusable or recyclable by 2015.

  • In 1997, we developed our recycled-content cup sleeve as a way to protect customers from hot beverages and avoid the waste of “double cupping.”
  • In 2006, we launched the industry’s first hot beverage paper cup with 10% post-consumer recycled fiber.
  • In 2008, we rolled out a new plastic cup that has less of an environmental impact than our original plastic cups.
  • In 2009, we hosted our first Cup Summit in Seattle, bringing together all facets of our paper and plastic cup value chain to find agreement on criteria for a comprehensive recyclable cup solution.
  • In 2010,we continued to build momentum with our second Cup Summit on a number of projects to drive cup recycling, and leveraging assistance from academic experts in systems thinking from MIT.
  • In 2011, participants from previous Cup Summits gathered at MIT once again to announce progress on actions plans from the previous Cup Summits. They were joined by a growing number of representatives from all facets of the paper and plastic cup value chain, including municipalities, raw material suppliers, cup manufacturers, retail and beverage businesses, recyclers, NGOs, and academic experts . Watch the video of the live broadcast from the Cup Summit to learn what industry leaders from MIT, Tim Horton’s, Georgia-Pacific and Action Carting Environmental Services are doing to find innovative ways to make cups and food packaging more recyclable. 

We are committed to doing more and continue to search for new ways to reduce the environmental footprint of our disposable cups and other packaging.

Reusable Cups

Reducing the environmental impact of our cups depends on the success of two interrelated efforts: developing recyclable cup solutions and dramatically increasing our customers’ use of reusable cups. A lot of our customers are also working to reduce their own environmental impact even as we are. To help them help us, we offer a 10-cent discount in the company operated stores to encourage customers to use their own reusable mugs or tumblers for their beverages. Customers staying in a store can also request that their beverages be served in a ceramic mug where available. Every paper cup saved helps keep our forests intact. (Learn more about deforestation from our partners at Conservation International.)


We introduced Grounds for Your Garden in 1995, which offers customers complimentary five-pound (2.27-kilogram) bags of used coffee grounds to enrich garden soil. Where commercial composting is available, many stores are able to divert other food waste and any remaining coffee grounds from the landfill as well.

Working with Local Governments

We have worked with the United States Conference of Mayors to find support for increased or improved commercial recycling opportunities across the country. We are excited about the opportunity to work with leading mayors in solving the recycling challenge at a local level.

How You Can Help

How you can help - use a tumbler

Use a Tumbler at Starbucks

You save 10¢ and a paper cup every time. 

Improve Recycling in Your City

Could your city do a better job at recycling? Write to your mayor and ask for more action on this important issue.

2011 Cup Summit Webcast

See a webcast from the 2011 Cup Summit where industry leaders discuss innovative ways to make cups and food packaging more recyclable.

View the webcast