Blue Bottle Coffee Tests Ditching Single-Use Cups In A Move Toward Zero Waste

mbg Editorial Assistant By Eliza Sullivan
mbg Editorial Assistant
Eliza Sullivan is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She has bachelor's degrees in journalism and english literature from Boston University.

Image by Darren Muir / Stocksy

Blue Bottle Coffee has announced that they'll test eliminating single-use cups in two of their Bay Area locations in 2020 as they begin a push to become zero waste by the end of next year.

Previously, Blue Bottle has introduced bioplastic cups, sugar-cane paper cups, paper straws, and more. They've found that these changes aren't enough, especially after finding out how few of those cups were being disposed of in the proper way. According to a statement from Blue Bottle CEO, Bryan Meehan, they're framing this change as a way to "celebrate reuse as an act of aesthetic delight."

The tests will see Blue Bottle offering guests three choices: Bring your own cup, have your drink to stay, or pay a deposit to use a reusable to-go cup provided by the cafe. If you choose the latter, you can swap out your cup for a clean one during your next visit.

The brand's push for less waste won't be limited to their take-away cup program. Blue Bottle will also introduce a more sustainable program for coffee bean sales, allowing customers to purchase beans in bulk. They'll even extend the reusable program to their grab-and-go options, which will come in reusable containers.

"A commitment to reuse will wreak havoc on every aspect of our pilot cafe's operations," wrote Meehan in his statement. "We expect to lose some business. We might fail. We know some of our guests won't like it—and we're prepared for that. But the time has come to step up and do difficult things. It's our responsibility to the next generation to change our behavior. It's all hands on deck."

Meehan also highlighted Blue Bottle's sustainability partner Conservation International. "Recycling is important, but the focus needs to be on the other two R's: reduce and reuse," says CEO of Conservation International, M. Sanjayan, Ph.D. This initiative by Blue Bottle tackles eliminating waste instead of finding ways to dispose of it more sustainably, tackling the problem at its root.

Currently, Blue Bottle reports they go through about 12 million disposable cups per year. Even on its own, this is a massive number, but Blue Bottle only makes up one brand in a massive market of coffee shops in the United States. While their announcement is specific to the trial program in the Bay Area, it could result in a national rollout if successful.

If anything, this may inspire coffee drinkers to grab a cute and sustainable reusable cup when you head out the door.

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