Starbucks will discontinue disposable cups in South Korea by 2025

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A barista washes at a sink inside a Starbucks Coffee Korea Co. store in Gimpo, South Korea.
SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Starbucks has pledged to discontinue disposable cups in South Korea by 2025 as it aims to cut its global landfill waste in half by the end of the decade.

The coffee giant has long promised to cut down the roughly 7 billion disposable cups it runs through every year, the majority of which end up in landfills. For decades, with a brief interruption during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, the company has offered a 10 cent discount to customers who bring in cups, but few choose that option.

After Starbucks announced last year that it plans to become “resource positive” eventually, the company has been setting more goals to cut down on water use, carbon emissions and waste. On Tuesday, the company said it would run a two-month pilot for a borrow-and-return program across five cafes in Seattle, where it is headquartered. The company announced on Monday a series of new targets for its South Korean market, including reducing its carbon footprint by 30% by 2025.

As it seeks to phase out single-use cups for its coffee, Starbucks plans to introduce a circular cup program in South Korea to slowly encourage customers to reuse mugs and cups. This summer, the chain plans to roll out a program across select cafes in Jeju that allows consumers to pay a small deposit for a reusable cup, which they can return at a contactless return kiosk.

Shares of Starbucks rose abou 1% in morning trading. The company’s stock has risen 64% over the last year, giving it a market value of $131 billion.

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