Multinational coffeehouse chain Starbucks has partnered with the NextGen Consortium to initiate what is claimed to be the first-ever citywide reusable cup project in California, US. 

Starting next month, the partners will make reusable cups as the standard for to-go drinks across Petaluma, California.  

The initiative is led by the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners and is a key initiative of the NextGen Consortium, with Starbucks as a founding member. 

The test will provide valuable insights into consumer behaviour when presented with reusable cups as the default option and will explore the potential for scaling this model to reduce single-use cup waste.  

This Petaluma Reusable Cup project will involve eight Starbucks stores and an additional 22 restaurants and cafés all offering a reusable cup option for both hot and cold beverages. 

The reusable cups, distinguishable by their branded purple colour, are made from bisphenol A-free polypropylene.  

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The Starbucks-specific cups will be white on the front and purple on the back, with fill line markings tailored to their beverage recipes.  

For a period of three months, customers will have the opportunity to participate in the reusable cup test.  

They can return their cups to any of the more than 60 purple drop-off bins located at participating Starbucks cafés and businesses throughout Petaluma.  

These cups will then undergo professional cleaning and sanitisation before being recirculated for use. 

The Petaluma Reusable Cup project is a collaboration between various stakeholders, including industry competitors, local businesses, city and county governments, and community and environmental advocacy groups.  

Notable participants alongside Starbucks include The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Peet’s Coffee, Yum! Brands, and Starbucks licensee partners Target and Safeway. 

Starbucks reusables director Helen Kao said: “Last year, Starbucks conducted a similar test in the same area, but we tested on our own. This year, we expanded on that through our partnership with NextGen Consortium to drive systems change.  

“What if we saturated a community, and reusables became the cultural norm? Now it’s an ecosystem of global brands, local businesses, city leaders and community groups working together. The industry is realising that it’s easier to partner than do things alone.” 

The initiative aligns with Starbucks’ environmental commitment to reduce waste and transition to more sustainable packaging solutions.  

The company’s goal is to make all customer-facing packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable.