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April 26, 2010


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Darth Sidamo

We could get rid of a full trash bag of paper in a few days if we could stop using a label printer.

Barista Ben

We print like 20 pages a day now with this annoying IMS system that seems to order in batsh@* crazy ways.


Imagine how much landfill space that we could save if we recycled all of the milk jugs that we go through. When I asked about it, I was told that it was "too expensive" to get a bin for recyclable plastics for our store. When I think about not only how many jugs we throw away, but also the next store and the next store...not good.



Where I live the government charges a refundable deposit for beverage containers, including milk jugs. Maybe you could write a letter to your municipal/state/provincial government and ask them to do the same. If will become a lot more lucrative for recycling companies (or even homeless people going through your garbage at night) to collect recyclables if those milk containers have refundable deposits.

Darth Sidamo

In the 50 largest cities in the united states, my city ranked 48th in being green. The big issue with recycling seems to be local and state laws, and shows that my local representatives care not about our environment. While I will be rocking the vote come later this year, reducing can make a bigger impact than recycling and reusing. Imagine trees that are not cut down in the first place.

This is why labels make me the angriest. It is non personal. Something very McDonald-esque about it the same way a man stands there in the "Hamburger" area and assembles the "Hamburgers" that they are told to make by a computer without any verbal interaction at all. On iced drinks they sweat and the label gets soggy. Stores are forced to use these for "order accuracy." I think this is a big load of crap. Just like taking notes, a person is more likely to remember something if they hear it and write it down as opposed to reading it. Physically writing an order would make it much more accurate.

I hate baring a morning rush and then after being able to grab the empty receipt paper and be able to actually walk into the back room with the paper still connected to the sticker machine.

We are moving backwards when it comes to recycling it seems. With new frappuccinos if you use a personal cup or get a grande in a venti, we still have to use another cup and then throw it away.

Reduce is the first step.


As a partner in a company owned store, I highly suggest that Starbucks starts some type of recycling program. My store throws away milk cartons like crazy. There has to be a way to recycle them. STARBUCKS NEEDS A RECYCLING PROGRAM IN ALL THEIR STORES!


Did you know that in NYC,refills have to be put in a NEW cup for health dept.(bloomberg needs more tix money) 1customer can use 4 different cups before they leave my store!! They refuse to use 4here cups..they should ban refills all together unless it's in 4here cup.period!

Darth Sidamo

We do it where i live too. I dont think thats just nyc. there was a barista need to know on it.

legendary or bust

Yes, all refills go into a new cup.I thought this was universal. And which cretin came up with the frappuccino recipe when we throw away a cup if it's a personal cup?? Just from purely financial and stocking point of view this is a waste, How often in the summer do you call around to find Iced Venti cups?


Let's keep cows in the parking lot where baristas can milk the cows into buckets. We wont need jugs and we can reuse the buckets.
Seriously, I always offer a porcelain cup to customers who are staying and they almost always decline.
Lastly, commercial recycling is not an option in the small city I work.


@Legendary or Bust - I've seen partners get Frappuccinos in for-here ware, and I've done that myself once in a while. Seems wasteful to use a plastic cup just to measure and toss! I agree with you. There is an MSI thread on that topic too.

Partners use like 77 million cups a year. Surely a few of those partners are ordering Frappuccinos and can get them for here. As Darth said, the first "R" is reduce.

(Link in my name goes to an MSI thread on wasting a plastic cup for each Frappuccino made)


Here is an idea for the milk jug predicament..don't get milk in 1 gal. jugs. Instead, use the system that the foodservices/schools use. It is, I believe, a 3 gallon plastic bag that goes into a dispenser about the size of the Sureshot. There is less waste, smaller container size and probably more user friendly...


I hadn't heard about the new cup refill thing until I moved to Seattle and I was told it was health code. I think a good way to reduce waste is to start charging for extras. If you want your drink double cupped well then its 20 cents. If you want a sleeve on your cold cup then thats 5 cents. Free water? Only if you have it for here. I am tired throwing away water cups 90% full! It's not unreasonable. But lets reward as well. Perhaps we can have more than a 10c discount on personal cups(and I don't know if we are supposed to offer but i give it anyways on for here cups)? And do the same for food that is for here. We should make it policy to offer every drink and food item for here and emphasize in big bold letters the discount you get.


I stand by one of my previous posts. Raise the personal cup discount (or better yet, charge a premium for to-go cups), and write up every partner who doesn't use a for here cup during their shift.

I wonder how much money and landfill space I just saved...


I'm sorry... I understand the whole mentality of "being green" but Baristamclane, writing up partners that don't use for here cups during their shift?
I worked at Starbucks for 2 years (ended at the end of last summer) and I saw how some people would wash those for here glasses and mugs. I would rather not drink from those most of the time and I would rather not be fired for that choice.
I agree that going through paper cup after paper cup is wasteful and all Starbucks stores should have recycling; there is no excuse for not having it in this day and age. Make sure all paper/plastic wares are recyclable and make sure there are proper receptacles!

shift misto

at my store we recycle quite a bit. the big challenge though is getting the recyclables to the returns. they dont have them locally here (or ANY recycling facilities for that matter) so it becomes a race against the ecosure clock to get the bags out before the lid can't close. honestly it does result in quite a few bags of rinsed sorted plastics in the dumpster.

we do have alot of (night) regulars that have taken to the china cup. and i agree that we should discount it. i realize its extra labor to wash it and spend the soap, but a tray of dishes isnt so bad to save a dozen paper cups. id imagine soap/water and cups are probably pretty close in cost.

i also cannot think of a single decent reason why we do not have reusable sleeves. they could be washer safe, even! not to mention its a little reminder in our customers car to come back to starbucks. we can personalize them up the wazoo. but no. instead for retail we get ridiculous african bags and half-assed coloring books.

@Darth Sidamo
i completely agree with your views on labeling. however, we don't walk to the back room with our label paper, instead we tape them to an ink pen and when the rush is over, we play "olympic ribbon dancers" behind the bar. really tho. as a pre-bux customer i loved the 'janedoe+smiley' on my cup. as a barista trained on labels from the go, i would rather struggle through learning the correct letters for a month or so than keep using labels. they also create mass confusion when ocd baristas cant keep their paws off the labeler when someone else is at the bar. next thing you know you have four unlabled, finished drinks and four labeled empty cups. (more anti-green. what is the anti-green. brown? probably smog brown). anyhow, mostly i meant to say hi and that i think we should be friends. maybe bffs. we'll see how it goes.

are the employees at your store generally so insubordinate that a write up is necessary for them to choose the right cup? instead of playing power trip with your employees, why not just make a rule that only forhere cups can sit on the drink ledge? move your baristas' paper cups to the back room a few times, and you'll find only forhere cups there soon enough.

Re: refills and dirty cups [equals lots of homeless/moochers in my lobby]

this is fun. a refill now equals a whole new coffee at a fraction of the price. want to stick it to the man? pop a squat in the lobby for a while. or shower in my bathroom sink. then go out front and grab a cup out of the garbage and come back in for your 53 cent refill. in a new pretty cup. with a new pretty sleeve. and a new pretty lid. this method would actually equal free coffee for life with a five dollar investment to a registered starbucks card. so there you go college students. i just saved you a ton of money. please tip still tho. kthx.

Coffee Solider

It is mandatory in my store for partners to use for here serveware unless they are leaving for the day with a partner beverage....and still most of them supply their own cups then as well. I put the rule into effect 3 years when I started adding up how much they were wasting....the compnay should do this as well!


@ Laura, what's stopping you from bringing in your own cup then? You can easily find plastic cups or ceramic mugs for a dollar. Sorry, I see no excuse why partners should be using to-go cups when for-here cups are made available to them--with the exception that they are taking one home with them.

@shift misto, yes, they are. My rule of thumb is to put partner beverages in for-here cups, and most partners still insist on a to-go cup, because they "are going to use the cup for the rest of the day." Which usually is only half-consumed by the end of the shift and left behind in the store. There are a couple partners who will have multiple beverages during their shift, all in to-go cups. At my current store, a previous manager stated that using for-here ware was the expectation for her partners. It only held true while she was on the clock. If it's an actual company standard, I don't know of it, and that surprises me, because that's a missed opportunity for Starbucks to be saving some money instead of this repeatable routine nonsense.

Just to nip that one before it comes up, I've worked in six different stores during my tenure with Starbucks, and seen the exact same thing happen at every store, so I know its not an isolated incident. I'm all for leading by example, which is why I avoid using to-go cups, and give the SM a heads up when we need to replace or order new fore-here ware, and try to encourage other partners to do the same. But regretfully, it would seem that the fear of corrective action is the only incentive to save a cup.

@ Coffee Soldier, kudos to you and your team, I'm writing you an virtual green apron card!

From my experience, most people need an incentive to try to be "green". They don't do it for the polar bears or the landfills. They do it, because they get something in return.

I think Starbucks has an opportunity to get creative in this area. We could do tumbler decorating contests, which might even drive the sales of our customizable tumblers.

Karl Dahlquist

Is there a Venti Sized Cold Tumbler for sale at Starbucks? I can never figure out what I am looking at in the store or at StarbucksStore.com Is everything made for a "tall"?


@Karl, we will be selling the cold tumblers when we launch our Summer promotion. I can't remember the actual day (although I know it's soon), but we just received some of the grande and ventis in our order yesterday.


I believe It is not only required in New York, but required everywhere to put the refill into a new paper cup because of health code and H1N1 worries. It came down as an action item months ago here in Ohio.
The new Frappuccinos system is very wasteful. Almost every other customer wants extra whip or extra shots and put in a different size cup. Also when someone uses their personal cup which should be helping the environment still wastes a cup. They should've really thought about this and just changed the pitchers.

shift misto

a little off topic, but..
today was my first day working with the new frap system. ugh. i want to like this change. i do like this change, infact. i like the options, i like less prep, and i think they taste better (although some flavors do need some extra tweaking). but oh boy is it a rough system when you're no longer in interruption-free training mode. i havn't screwed up that many drinks in a long time. and im not very happy about the "no more than one drink per blender" rule. so if i have an order for 4 tall double choc chips, i have to touch all those ingredients four time, and blend four time. just doubled my production time not to mention the extra steps added to the new fraps anyway. i hope it gets smooth, but im nervous for summer, we are a very frap heavy store. i guess frappy hour will be a good run through.


I've set up recycling in the last 4 stores I've worked at. Whether or not a store offers recycling depends on three main things: 1) if local municipalities have some kind of recycling program 2) if the property management is willing to pay for having a large recycling only dumpster and 3) if partners in the store care enough about their stores impact on the environment to set up some form of recycling in their store. We recycle milk jugs, syrup bottles, tetra-packs, paper, cardboard, plastic & glass bottles. In my experience Starbucks has a lot of room for improvement in this area. Yes, we have LED lights and 10% post consumer waste recycled paper cups- but I've never seen Starbucks try to actively institute recycling within stores, and I think a higher personal cup discount would make a big difference.


@shift misto-really? I'm finding them incredibly easy and a lot faster than the old method. Esp since they come sailing right out of the pitcher


I saw that Barista Need to Know but doesn't mean I will abide by it.

Liz Lemon

Hi there! New to this blog; found it on Google. I'm not a barista, just a plain old customer and I find all of this kind of fascinating. I'll definitely have a different perspective when I go in tomorrow morning for my vanilla latte. Anyway, as for the topic, I always use a personal cup. And, sadly, I'm almost always the only one. It's a surprise if there's someone else there who also uses a personal cup. I definitely agree that a higher personal cup discount would get more people to use them. Ten cent discount? Are you kidding me? That's pathetic. I use a personal cup for two reasons (1. I was feeling really bad about throwing away cup after cup every day, and 2. I love how cute my tumbler is!) and that stupid discount definitely isn't one of them. In fact, if the clerk forgets to ring up my discount, I don't even bother correcting them. That's how useless it is.

Although, sometimes I do feel like a freak for being the only person in the store using a tumbler.


@Liz, they've tried offering more, it didn't make a difference.

David Mackie

Hi there,

Just to mention, Starbucks has also sponsored a public competition about how to deal with its paper cup consumption. As paper cups are coated with plastic film, they can't be recycled.

The views of baristas and coffee shop about what might work are really important.

My own suggestion is at http://www.jovoto.com/contests/drink-sustainably/ideas/5046 , and if you could comment on it (which requires registering) and vote on it if it makes sense, that would be brilliant. I'd really like to hear what you think.

Kind regards,



@DavidMackie -
Out of curiousity, I went to the link you provided above. Your site is a little confusing what you're trying to do with it, but it seems as though it's a compilation of creative ideas for how to deal with the Starbucks paper cup. Some of those ideas are frequently seen on MyStarbucksIdea.com.

It's definitely a creative site, and I thought the idea of a cup made out of cork was clever, though I have no idea how recyclable that is, or whether it is possible to make billions of those at a price point to work for Starbucks. Interesting site though.

Since you're interested in paper cups, the link in my name goes to my own blog post about Starbucks and paper cups. No pressure though. Oh yes, I also thought your idea of a leaf cup with clever - very compostable, but I have to wonder if it is even possible to make a sturdy cup out of leaves?? That boggles my brain.



What I don't understand is how is it so expensive, to recycle the plastic jugs and cups? When I hear that this is expensive for Starbucks to recycle, it is quite disturbing to my ears to hear, because one I am a loyal Starbucks customer, I spend about $3.85-$11.55 a day there. You know what I do with my cups? I take them home and recycle them. Why? Because Starbucks does not provide recycling bins outside of thier stores unfortunately figuring WI-FI is available though. However, I recently went to throw trash outside of a Starbucks trash can and you know what it contained? Nothing but plastic and cardboard cups. I should have taken a photograph it was so ridiculous. What I do not understand is how the Japanese can grasp the "concept" of recycling everything within thier cities obviously due to over-population and waste consumption, in which they grasp the concept of waste reduction but, for some reason here in the United States with our "green companies" such as Starbucks, however that is defined, continue to waste and somehow cannot grasp the concept of recycling due to financial savings because things are too "expensive?" Is expensive a legitamate excuse when your charging about almost $4.00 for a cup of coffee to compare to Sharisor Denny's who charges about $2.00 in a porcelain cup and is not wasting? Please explain Starbucks, because I would like to know as well as many other people who come and provide sales to your stores around the world what your future plans are on recycling being a green company. Thank you.


One more comment for Starbucks, in order to truly improve your company how about providing dishwashers within your store for people who bring their plastic Starbucks cups, who are loyal customers and come two or three times a day. Honestly, the whole saving $2.00 every now and then off a cup of coffee is just a gimme, how about providing some real service that is not all about "profits" and actually about conserving and being a green company. Because if a customer is purchasing a plastic cup for $12.95 then buying a $4.00 cup of coffee how about actually giving back to your customers. Thank you, I hope Starbucks executives are reading this and making some changes to benefit the customers because I support Starbucks, I appreciate that Starbucks actually takes care of it employees and has a low turn employee turn-around rate which is great however the recycling is an easy fix and I am sure every dedicated Starbucks customer would be more than happy to participate in a recycling program with bins outside the store, one for aluminum, one for plastic, one for cardboard and shoot why not one for paper too!


Lastly, How can Starbucks make customers get new paper cups however with Starbucks "new" "plastic" green $12.95 plastic cup customers can bring one used from a couple hours ago still filled with milk, chocolate and whip cream in there however that can be refilled. Why is that? Do germs or for worse bacteria not spread either way? I'm just curious, not a biology major or anything however would like to know the difference if there is any because this does occur so again maybe some dishwashers in Starbucks or the whole plastic cup "thing" with customers bringing their awesome green cup dirty won't work, and will end up having to purchase a paper cup and not be able to save the 10% differential cost of using the plastic green to-go cup, so how does this make the green-cup ultimatley work to it's full purpose without having dishwashers for customers who come to Starbucks all the time? Because people generally do not have time during a work day during a 10 or 15 minute break to stop and clean the cup prior to going to Starbucks because by then it's 3 minutes of their break taken up plus the time it takes to get to Starbucks plus the ridiculous wait at certain Starbucks. Starbucks please implement an advanced green device such as a simple dishwasher that reduces the use of water as well to coincide with the green plastic cup, there is no financial excuse, just provide recycling bins outside stop the 10% discount on the plastic green cups and there's your "money" or interest back for providing recycling bins outside.Easy fix.

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