Starbucks says new cold drink cups are made with less plastic

The spike in demand for cold beverages at Starbucks has led to an issue: an increasing volume of plastic waste generated by the disposable cups used for Frappuccinos, Refreshers, cold brews, and other iced drinks. 

But starting this month, the coffee giant said it will begin rolling out an improved single-use cold cup that’s better for the planet.

According to the Seattle-based company, all cups will be made with up to 20% less plastic and designed so that all tall, grande and venti cold cups will use the same sized lid.

Amelia Landers, Starbucks’ vice president of product innovation, said the company spent the last four years developing the new containers. Engineers tested thousands of iterations to see how much plastic they could remove while still making the cup feel sturdy.


All tall, grande and venti cold cups were designed to use the same lid size. (Credit: Starbucks)

"We feel like it’s industry-leading," Landers told the Associated Press. "It’s the best expression of a cold plastic cup."

Starbucks said the move underscores its commitment to halving its waste, water and carbon footprints by 2030.

Based on an analysis of life cycle assessments, Stabucks said producing the new cups is projected to save, annually, emissions equivalent to taking about 5,200 cars off the road, and conserve about 2,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water. The new cups will also keep more than 13.5 million pounds of plastic from landfills each year, according to the company.

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The cups are set to be rolled out to stores in the U.S. and Canada starting this month, with a full rollout over the next year.

The company adopted strawless lids in 2019. Last year, it said it would accept customer-provided cups for drive-thru and mobile orders in the U.S. and Canada.

Longer term, Starbucks has said it wants all of its packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2030. The reduced-plastic cup making its debut is a small step toward that goal: even though the cup is recyclable, it still was designed for one-time use, Landers said.

"I think we will never take our foot off the gas, evaluating new ways and new methods and new technologies to go further," she said. "We’re not done."

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.