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May 14, 2008


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Eric Prince

It seems to me that the second ingredient in a cup of coffee would have gotten a bit more attention over the years. :)


Starbucks might do things that customers don't see, but every time I toss a sample cup or see those perfectly recyclable venti-frappucino cups going in the trash (along with other recyclables) I cringe. I wonder if those milk cartons I see wheeled in make it to a landfill or not.




If people are really so concerned about "the environment" that Starbucks's practices bother them, then perhaps they should just stop going there. After all, it's a purely discretionary purchase, and clearly if all Starbucks were closed, the positive impact to the environment would be much greater than these incremental changes.

Oh wait, forgot -- in the current doctrine of yuppie environmentalism, you have to think about where to put your trash, but God forbid you live without your afternoon frap!

Barista Joe

My store doesn't even HAVE recycling bins.

Sho Nuff

JMW...by that logic, we should close all food/drink places...b/c they all create waste and I have never seen a recycling bin anywhere other than a home or school...

It's up to each individual to decide if they want to recycle...I'm certainly not going to dig through our trash to pick out the cups that other people throw away...I'm not too much of a germophobe, but that's a little much. I'll take care of my own recycling on my own time.

Barista Joe...you should get some for your store. That's what I am doing for ours.


SHO NUFF: I suppose. But Starbucks is obviously a pure luxury item. The company buys up/leases tons of real estate in downtown cities, driving up prices, forcing people to move into suburbs. It ships coffee from all over the world and roasts it by the ton. It runs electricity many hours of the day and night. Etc., etc.

Obviously the reason people go to Starbucks is because they like it, not because they want to save the environment. Starbucks is, and always will be, a net harm to the environment. Let's get over it.

So I say: screw energy efficient lighting. Get the best lighting that humans will enjoy and invite people to buy your stuff for lots of money and sit under it for as long as they like.

Screw biodegradable cups. Get the cups that make the coffee taste like gold, and charge your customers accordingly. Invite them to buy seconds, in a fresh cup each time.

Recycling? Wouldn't you rather your customers and baristas think about something other than separating trash?

In my experience these "environmental" initiatives always lead to down-grading the consumer experience in a thinly disguised attempt at saving costs. Any consideration other than the customer's experience should be foregone, especially at a time of crisis for the company.

It's amazing how many businesses don't get this. Whole Foods with its napkin rationing, for example, is a big offender. They ration out napkins to customers eating overpriced food, while flagrantly wasting electricity for the sake of display purposes.

Starbucks will do the same as they go down the eco-friendly route. One more nail in their coffin.


Does anyone know where you can get a really sturdy, metal coffee tumbler that can safely be put in a dishwasher? I really should get one since I go to Starbucks every day. I will look into finding a good one, but let me know if you all have any ideas.

I usually get an iced grande latte, but sometimes get hot drinks. So, if I bring in my own tumbler how does Starbucks know how much to give you/charge you for?


Marcus, I drink iced lattes as well, and as a Starbucks barista, I can tell you that most of the baristas you run into will make your drink in a throw-away cup and dump it into your tumbler. It's just the way we're taught the recipe. My suggestion is to buy one of the clear plastic cups, make sure it has a clear interior and take out the paper insert. Then mark the cup with horizontal lines like the throw-away cups are marked so they will make your iced latte in your cup.

Or, you could ask for a scoop of ice, the shots and the milk. That will make the perfect iced grande latte... if you have a 16 oz cup. The partner at the counter will estimate what he/she thinks the cup size is, and charge you accordingly. Like, if they think the cup is small, they'll charge you for a tall with the cup discount.

If every customer thought like you did, we'd save so many cups into the trash!


Most tumblers/cups are 12, 16, or 20oz (most are 16).

Starbucks stores are supposed to have little Post-It Notes that have our Beverage Identification boxes on them. This is stuck on the tumbler, marked, and gets taken off after the drink is made.


I've never heard of anyone making a drink in a throw-away cup and dumping it into a tumbler??

Isn't one of the main points of buying a tumbler to save the use of a throw-away cup??


Every store in my area has special recycle bins that we put all recyclables into. My store is the only one that doesn't (due to condominium regulations), so we go out of our way to recycle.

I think making the cups fully biodegradable is a great idea. And for everyone who has a problem with cup waste, buy a go mug! It keeps your coffee hotter longer, too!


I don't keep up much with the latest environmental ideas, but I thought Starbucks cups, napkins, and carry out's already were biodegradeable (sp?). Am I wrong?


Um, hello! We DO often make drinks in a paper cup and then transfer them into YOUR cup. Why? You're in the Drive-Through, with 3-4 cars ahead of you. Do you want us to wait for you to get to the window to take and your cup and THEN start making your drink? No! We actually start on your drink when you just ordered with those 3-4 cars ahead of you. By the time you get to the window you to hand us your tumbler your drink has just finished being made so we THEN transfer it into your cup. I cannot wait for you to get to the window to start on your drink while making drinks for people behind you. Such is the nature of DT business, and we didn't invent it. (The industry, which we (SBUX) are a part of, did).

You can get a decent metal tumbler at Target, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, possibly Home Depot, Big Lots or some other big home/decor/kitchen store. Try a mall outlet like Mikasa. Also, try looking online.

On another note, does anyone know if the plastic pitchers we used to make Iced Teas and Coffee, and Light Frappuccino base and what not are BPA-free? I cringe when I see us pour hot liquids into those plastic things. Some of it has GOT to melt into out drinks over time. Who knows what crap these pitchers leach into drinks over time. I know many companies are recalling BPA plastic ware.


You make drinks in paper cups only to transfer them into a personal cup? Are you serious????????
If you don't want to wait this extra minute (which is actually the customers wait time) - and I do understand you feel pressured by the line-up - then make this drink in a for here mug. You can then rinse it and reuse it for the next customer.
It's not rocket science folks...


Thanks Michael, I appreciate the advice about the plastic tumblers, but the reason I was looking for a metal tumbler is because I don't have it in me to figure out which plastics are safe and which are not! Lol...there's always some plastic problem I'm hearing about in the news, and I don't know which is which, so I figured metal would be safer.


Look out for nickel poisoning!!! ;)

I order a lot of iced mochas too, but my baristas used to ask me if it was okay to do it in my tumbler only, because the recipe could be off a bit. I always said yes, and it was never bad. Maybe by saying to only make it in your tumbler and to be forgiving of little mistakes could save even more.

And I say used to because they took the Starbucks out of the Albertsons, and I will NEVER again go to the stand alone store they just put up. The service there is terrible.


Legendary - not every customer is a drive-thru, though. I use a steel tumbler, but I don't bother with it when/if I do go through the drive thru, because the nature of drive-thru is to have the stuff ready when you're at the window. You're preaching to the choir here - I don't think we're talking about the same thing. People who go in to the store shouldn't have the problem of someone using paper first if they have a proper-sized and clean mug to hand to the barista AS they're placing their order. As for recipes and so forth - I'm not a super-frills person. Drip w/room for cream is as exotic as I get, but I still don't see why the recipe would be different if the paper cup is 16 oz and the tumbler is also 16 oz and round, unless you were doing something where tools had to get inside to crush ice or something, and the tumbler was really, really odd-shaped. But how many people bring in tumblers for the really complicated drinks?

Marcus - try a Westloop AutoSeal. The lid has to be rinsed by hand, but the body of the mug can be tossed in a dishwasher (despite the label saying don't - there's no harm and mine has survived) and the lid itself is leakproof - you can handle a simple rinse in the sink when you're done, for the convenience it will offer. I own two of them, and will likely never get a regular mug again - keeps cold cold and hot hot for a good couple of hours. Family member bought one last week after seeing how mine worked, and she's an ice and water non-coffee drinker. 16 oz. capacity and you can get them in the larger stores that sell kitchen ware or at the 2nd biggest chain coffee store that starts with a C if you have one in your area.


Legendary- Bullshit. Absolute bullshit. I work at a DT, one of the highest volume stores in the area, and we ALWAYS wait for the customer's cup before starting it. I steam the milk for the drink in question as soon as they order, work on the drinks behind it, and when I finally get the cup, just pull shots and finish the drink. It only takes a few seconds longer.


Right, so using mugs for here for personal cups -- there is use of labour, water, and soap. Does it equal out to the cost of tossing a paper cup?

How many paper cups do you toss out during your day because when you started the drink they say at the end "Oh, and I wanted it iced"?


And what if their cup/mug is long and thin and it is hard to avoid contact with the mocha pump or the white mocha pump or any syrup bottle for that matter?


Most people don't care we toss cups -- they do it because they like their mugs better -- not because they want us to save a cup. If they wanted to save a cup, they would let us know and we do it for them, which we do


Legendary, methinks you don't know your customers very well and are looking to gripe. People wouldn't bother carrying their own mug around - even if they like their mug - if it didn't avoid having to toss the paper cups away. The cost of the dishwashing would be less than the energy saved when you consider the mug drinkers are daily consumers - a min of 300 paper cups a year for most of them, most folks doing their own washing at home every few days in a dishwasher, with a quick simple water rinse in between. It's significant. The expense and labor of forming the paper, maintenance of the machine that cuts and inks it, the salary of someone to operate the machine, the cost to ship the cups to the stores - 300 cups per PERSON over the course of a year. That's the kind of math we're talking here. Water bills per store to rinse an in-house "for here" cup - might be more than what's already being shelled out for water at present - but still less than what it's costing to make the paper cups, for no more of an energy expense than currently experienced - it's not costing more to bring the water in, you're just being charged more for the volume you're consuming of it.
Follow the math - using less paper/being able to recycle the paper cups is a good thing on two diff levels.


Well, and not only that, after a morning coffee in a traveling mug, but you could reuse it the rest of the day with a quick rinse of water, for other drinks as well. I don't think the environmental cost of the water and detergent is as high as the paper cup going to a landfill and having to be produced to begin with (logging, transporting the wood, turning the wood into paper, and then bleaching the paper). Plus I think when they bleach paper it puts something bad into the air.

On the other hand, my experience with tumblers in the past is that THEY quickly go into a landfill as well because the construction is terrible, so thanks Anonymouse for your tip, I'll look into the one you recommended!


Michael, maybe it's just your store that makes drinks in paper cups then dumps them into the personal cups. I mean, the whole point of giving a personal cup discount is because they're not using a disposable cup, and thus we don't charge for the cost of a paper cup.

Gee, not quite living up to your name right now. It doesn't take THAT much longer to wait for the personal cup before making their drink. I know, I work in a busy store, and it doesn't slow you down that much.

Field Partner

JMW - You hit the nail on the head. Most of the "green" actions taken by Starbucks are superficial and designed to make us feel better about the environment, not to improve the environment.


Where have all the flavors gone??? I remember when there use to be a choice. Bold or mild. Now you got 2 choices Bold or Extreme or should I say Bold or Pikes Place. Bring back the diversity of coffee. Let us with the sensative pallet have our Verona's and House Blends back. Put Pike back in his place by serving it only at the starbucks-mecca in Seattle.


My store recycles cardboard only, which is a sizable amount...about a one full dumpster per week. However, we don't have plastic recycling facilities where we're located. And the paper cups...well, I end up seeing them on the sides of roads for miles down the road. Sad...

Pat Nerr

Right On JMW!

Another nail in Howie's proverbial coffin.


I was told by someone at corporate headquarters that they have compost collectors all over the building... and that they're encouraged to put their used starbucks cups in there... how does that work if they're lined with something that's not biodegradable?


I bought a Starbucks mug that holds hot liquids & it was a # 7 plastic!!!

UGH! This is the one that has the toxic chemical BPA in it.

I thought starbucks was eco-friendly! I will never buy from them again!


I was just at our local Safeway, which has a Starbucks in it. While walking towards the doors, and past Starbucks, I noticed some hot beverage tumblers on sale. They were bright orange in color,and another kind I can't remember. I peeled back the sale sticker on the bottom, and yes, it was a #7 PLASTIC! Starbucks doesn't care a bit about people's health, just their money. One more reason why I don't purchase anything at Starbucks...

new mom

My husband bought me a nice new Ethos hard water bottle at Starbucks yesterday. Great design, easy to use, and a dollar goes to help kids in Africa get clean water. Ironic then that I noticed it is plastic #7 containing BPA, which is a hormone disruptor most harmful to fetuses, infants and children. Sure, save children on the other side of the world, but screw up ours. I would love to see the company do a voluntary recall of these products, like Mountain Equip Co-Op (MEC) and a bunch of baby bottle companies.


Not all #7 plastic contains BPA. #7 is just the designation for "all other" types of plastic that aren't #1-#6.


Most #7 plastic if not all contain BPA per wikipedia. I bought a bottle a couple weeks ago from the 'bucks down the street. One of the new pretty blue ones. It is #7 PC. When I purchased it I thought surely Starbucks wouldn't put those on the market anymore so I did not look it up before I made the purchase. Just looked up the info on BPA today... I'm really annoyed. I'd say they are more interested in money than our health.

amanda rose johnson

check the top of the cup on the inside of the lid...there is usually a different number there...I too thought I bought a stupid #7 cup but then realized it has a number 5 for the inside plastic. I guess it's a different plastic on the inside than on the outside...I Hope?!


Does anyone know how to remove the paper insert from the newer 16 oz. plastic mugs? I overfilled mine and coffee absorbed into the paper. Now the paper doesn't look so pretty and I'm concerned about mold. Thanks!


what type of a biodegradable material are they using inside the cup?

Cookie Monster

I personally worked for a new store here in OHIO and worked with our property managers to get RECYCLING instituted at our location. It worked very well...I had to train the store as to what is recyclable and what is not; but oddly enough when our partners go to other locations they ask, "Where do you recycle the milk jugs?" I'm so proud. It can be done at each and every location, the partners or the store managers just have to be motivated to create this type of environment in the store!

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