Brewing a culture of reuse across communities in Asia

Reusable cup designs from Starbucks in Japan

Actions become more powerful when we take them together. While efforts to reduce waste are not new to Starbucks, today we are advancing circularity at scale with our partners (employees), customers and through thoughtful partnerships.

Asia is home to 60% of the world’s population and several fast-growing economies. By shifting toward a circular economy and finding better ways to manage our waste, we can help communities thrive for years to come. But we cannot do it alone. It takes all of us.

From inviting partners and customers to make reusable cups a regular part of the Starbucks Experience, to exploring innovative ways to reuse coffee grounds from our stores, Starbucks is brewing a culture of reuse across Asia.

Sharing the journey towards increased re-use

Starbucks has offered the option for customers to enjoy their beverage in For Here Ware or to Bring-Your-Own-Cup (BYOC) for a discount since the 1980s, and we serve beverages in For Here Ware across our stores in the Asia Pacific region.

As part of our ongoing commitment to reducing the waste sent to landfill by 50% by 2030, we continue to explore new ways to decrease single-use cup waste through reuse. With many customers enjoying their favorite Starbucks beverage on the go, the challenge is how to make it as convenient as possible.

“We continue to explore new ways to inspire and support our customers to make rewarding planet-positive changes, without compromising on the convenience expected from Starbucks. Promoting reusability and reducing single-use cup waste are important factors in shifting towards a circular economy,” said Sara Trilling, president, Starbucks Asia Pacific.

This fall, Starbucks encouraged customers to bring their own cups into stores and gifted a limited-edition reusable cup to all customers who purchased a handcrafted beverage across Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. With one cup replacing up to 30 single-use cups, the company aspires to create a culture of reuse amongst customers, partners and communities, bringing them together around a shared desire to do more for the planet.

The initiative has provided partners with new ways to deepen connections with customers across the region, while inviting them to join us on our resource-positive journey.

“I’m excited to take part in Starbucks efforts to take care of the planet we share,” said Sandy, a partner in Hong Kong. “I know small changes add up to make a big impact, and I really feel like I’m making a difference in the conversations I’m having with customers.”

Earlier this year, Starbucks announced plans to fully discontinue single-use cups in all stores across South Korea by 2025 and launched a reusable cup program in select stores in Jeju, which it plans to expand to additional locations over the next for years. Starbucks also launched a similar program in Tokyo, Japan, as it continues to explore convenient ways to encourage customers to reduce disposable cup usage.

In a first for the company globally, Starbucks® stores across Japan, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean offered promotions to encourage customers to reduce single-use cup waste and adopt long-term sustainable behaviors.

Starbucks Coffee Korea’s reusable program is an example of how the company is partnering with like-minded organizations to drive lasting change in and beyond its industry. Through the program, it joins forces with other organizations in leading the reduction of single-use cup waste, while sharing sustainability best practice and learnings. It also partners with a third-party to clean, sterilize and dry the used cups before they are returned to circulation in stores.

As the program takes off in select stores in Jeju, Starbucks partners believe it will help to preserve the island’s beauty, while driving leadership in sustainability. “Being selected as one of the first stores to participate in this project at Starbucks makes me nervous but it also gives me a sense of mission to make it a successful project. I think the Reusable Cup program shows Starbucks courage to try and find solutions for sustainability,” said Jules, a store manager at one of the participating stores.

Starbucks eliminates disposable cups at four stores in Jeju, South Korea

Upcycling coffee grounds for good

Coffee grounds are the largest source of food waste for Starbucks, and we continue to explore creative ways to engage our customers in our resource-positive journey – with coffee at the core.

We’ve introduced unique programs across the region to transform used coffee grounds, crafting them into holiday gifts with DIY hacks in Hong Kong, creating specialty merchandise items in Thailand, and incorporating them into our in-store artwork. We also provide customers with used coffee grounds from our stores to use as garden fertilizer through our Grounds for Your Garden program in select markets.

“The Third Place experience created by Starbucks partners in our stores is where we build community and connect around a shared desire to do good. Our reusability initiatives across the region connect customers to the entire coffee ecosystem, helping to cultivate a profound appreciation for all things coffee, while inspiring them to take action to build a more sustainable future,” said Sara Trilling, president, Starbucks Asia Pacific.

In the spirit of the Third Place, Starbucks is pioneering circularity strategies that create positive impact for local communities, while also reducing its waste footprint. Starbucks has partnered with local farmers in South Korea in 2015 to donate recycled coffee grounds for agricultural fertilizer to grow produce. Starbucks brings these ingredients back into stores for customers to enjoy across a range of packaged food items including a range of breads, rice chips and dried fruits. A similar program has been running in Japan since 2014, through which Starbucks recently launched a new range of fresh food items to customers.

Across Asia, we continue to engage our customers, partners and communities in our resource-positive journey, galvanizing the power of doing better together.

In Jeju, store manager Jules believes the Borrow A Cup has the potential to inspire collective action across the wider region: “I feel so proud to be involved in the project because it shows how easily we can integrate reusables into our daily lives. By making small changes together, we can protect the planet we share.”

To find out more about our progress against our sustainability goals, read our 2020 Report here.

thumbnail for Our Journeys Through Coffee: Celebrate International Coffee Day 2023 with four of our Asia-Pacific Partners

Our Journeys Through Coffee: Celebrate International Coffee Day 2023 with four of our Asia-Pacific Partners