Starbucks pledges £7m to develop ‘fully recyclable and compostable’ cup following pressure from campaigners

'This is a step forward but only part of the solution,' say campaign organisers, as coffee giant declares three-year goal for more sustainable beverage container

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Wednesday 21 March 2018 20:29
Latte levy: The plastic problem inside your coffee cup

Coffee giant Starbucks has committed $10m (£7m) to bringing a fully recyclable and compostable cup to the market within three years.

The move came after a campaign from a coalition of environmental organisations pressured the company to honour a decade-old pledge to introduce 100 per cent recyclable coffee cups.

A petition accompanying the Break Free From Plastic campaign has gathered nearly one million signatures.

In a statement, Starbucks said: “No one is satisfied with the incremental industry progress made to date, it’s just not moving fast enough.

“So today, we are declaring a moon shot for sustainability to work together as an industry to bring a fully recyclable and compostable cup to the market, with a three-year ambition.”

What do people think of Starbucks charging 5p for coffee cups?

The move marks the third such commitment made by Starbucks to move towards recyclable cups.

“Because this is their third commitment, needs more details from Starbucks about its pledge,” said Todd Paglia, executive director of, the joint leaders of the campaign.

"In 2008 Starbucks boldly told the world it would work on switching to a 100 per cent recyclable paper cup. Today public pressure has forced it to finally commit serious money to that effort,” said Sondhya Gupta, senior campaigner at SumOfUS, the other lead organisation.

“This is a step forward but only part of the solution. We must keep up the pressure to make the company quickly get rid of plastic pollution in all its products and stop promoting a throw away culture.”

The Independent’s Cut the Cup Waste campaign has been pushing for action of this nature from businesses and government to work towards better solutions for the problem of disposable coffee cup waste.

Despite public support for a “latte levy” – a proposed charge added to coffee cups to discourage their use – ministers recently decided to ignore recommendations to introduce such a levy.

Instead they said coffee outlets should offer voluntary discounts to customers who bring their own cups.

Such discounts are already offered by coffee chains including Starbucks, and the company has also recently launched a trial of its own latte levy in select London outlets.

The campaigners behind Break Free From Plastic emphasised the need to embrace a variety of solutions to deal with plastic waste from businesses such as Starbucks.

“Starbucks' plastic pollution problem goes beyond its paper cup. The ‘Starbucks: Break Free From Plastic’ coalition remains committed to pushing Starbucks to increase the amount of reusable cups in stores, as well as reduce its plastic pollution by eliminating other single-use plastic items like straws, cutlery and other plastic packaging,” said Emily DiFrisco, director of digital strategy at the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Tell us what you think by emailing and we’ll send you an Independent-branded reusable coffee cup

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments