Starbucks Canada Joins Return-It Cup Recycling Pilot Program in Vancouver

To comply with City of Vancouver by-law requirements to reduce single-use waste, Starbucks will begin collecting a $0.25 fee for single use cups on January 1  

Starbucks will use the fees to support various sustainability initiatives, and give a portion of the proceeds to local not-for-profit, Return-It, as voted by Starbucks partners 

Starbucks Canada is proud to join Return-It in the relaunch of its expanded cup recycling pilot in the City of Vancouver this spring as the company looks to ensure a sustainable future for all and explore scalable options to reduce single-use cup waste. 

Originally launched in February 2020, this pilot program is British Columbia’s first initiative to recycle cups in commercial/public buildings and public spaces.  The pilot intends to address the over 1.6 million coffee cups disposed of in the City of Vancouver annually at industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) locations and public spaces.  While paused shortly after its launch due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this recycling pilot supports the City of Vancouver’s new single-use bylaw that came into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.  

“We know we can achieve more in partnership with others, which is why we are excited to support the Return-It Cup Recycling pilot program – a program our partners (employees) in Vancouver voted to support,” said Ross Anderson, Head of Social Impact, Public Policy and Sustainability, Starbucks Canada. “We endorse the City of Vancouver’s goal to reduce single-use waste, and we will be using the proceeds from the single-use cups fees to support various sustainability initiatives at Starbucks that are important to our customers and partners (employees), including this pilot that can further help our industry find a recycling solution for disposable cups.”  

“We are excited to be relaunching this much needed pilot this spring and have Starbucks join us in helping to identify a solution to reduce waste,” said Allen Langdon, President & CEO of Return-It. “This pilot is a first step to making a quantifiable difference for recycled cups over the long term with the benefit of establishing a scalable template that can be rolled out in other jurisdictions – ultimately protecting our natural environment and keeping single-use cups out of landfills.” 

While coffee and other plastic cups are collected and recycled through the province’s residential recycling program, more than half of hot and cold cups that are disposed of as garbage in Vancouver come from street locations, public spaces, and public and commercial buildings. Starbucks has long recognized this gap and has been committed to helping fund in-store recycling in every Starbucks store where this is possible, especially to recycle our own single use cups in regions where local recycling facilities do not have the capabilities. 

Joining this pilot with Return-It is another way Starbucks is looking to reduce waste by 50% by 2030 globally, while supporting the company’s aspiration of a resource-positive future.  As part of its sustainability commitment, the company is focusing on ways to better manage its waste, both in Starbucks stores and in the communities it serves by ensuring more reuse and recycling.  Efforts to reduce waste is not new to Starbucks and the company continues to explore scalable options here in Canada, including: 

  • Using recyclable, strawless lids that are made with nine percent less plastic than the previous cup straw-and-lid combination. 
  • Acting through powerful partnerships like our work with Closed Loop Partners and their NextGen Consortium to research and test solutions that aim to make our cups, lids and straws easier to recycle and compost. 
  • Rescuing 100% of food available for donation at company-operated stores through FoodShare program to be nationally rolled out by end of September. 
  • Switching to recyclable, polypropylene cutlery to make it more easily acceptable in the Canadian waste stream.  

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