Take a closer look at Starbucks newest VIVANNO™ cold cups and you’ll notice something a little different. Traditionally, our cold cups have been made from the industry-standard Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) plastic. You can identify it by the #1 symbol on the bottom of the cup. Although it’s the same PET that is used for most beverage bottles, the manufacturing process for cups makes them incompatible with bottles in most recycling systems. Unfortunately, this means most recyclers won’t accept any PET cups for recycling.
We’re concerned about the climate impact of our cups and other packaging. One cup doesn’t make much of a difference, but we sell over one billion cold cups every year, so any improvement we can make in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from producing our cups has a pretty big impact.
That’s why we asked an external group of scientists to look at the entire environmental impact lifecycle of our cups, from extraction of the raw materials, to converting the plastic resins into cups, to their transportation, to their use and finally their disposal. What we discovered is that polypropylene (PP) cups actually use 15% less plastic than PET cups and emit 45% less greenhouse gasses during their production. This lifecycle assessment (or LCA) approach is how we plan to start measuring the true environmental impact of every major decision around packaging. It’s not enough to just focus on recycling anymore. To be truly responsible, we need to understand all of the impacts of our decisions around cups or coffee or the way we build our stores. Recycling is just one link in an entire chain of environmental impacts.
But, speaking of recycling, PP cups are also a great improvement over PET because PP (identify it by the #5 symbol) can be mixed (or co-mingled) together without impacting its ability to be recycled. So, if your recycler accepts yogurt or margarine containers (also PP) for recycling, they should also take Starbucks new VIVANNO™ cups. Just be sure to check with your local recycler first. This may be new to them too, so they may not be currently accepting PP cups.
Starbucks is excited to introduce our newest beverage in our newest cup. As the first company to use post-consumer recycled paper fiber in hot cups, we’re always looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of our operations. So, enjoy your VIVANNO™ and let us know what you think of the drink and the new cups!