Starbucks Is Testing A Reusable Cup Program At London's Gatwick Airport

Come fly with Starbucks, and help save the Earth just a little bit while doing so. In an effort to make the coffee chain increasingly environmentally friendly, one Starbucks at London's Gatwick Airport is testing a reusable cup program.

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Whether they buy a drink from the secret menu or a plain ol' cup of joe, Starbucks customers in Gatwick's South Terminal are asked at the register if they'd like a reusable cup instead of a paper cup. Guests who agree are given a reusable cup with the classic Starbucks logo and asked to drop it in a special bin before boarding their plane. There are five cup check-in points throughout the airport where the cup can be returned. The cups are later collected, sterilized and washed so they can be used again.

Starbucks is partnering with environmental nonprofit group Hubbub for a one-month trial of the reusable-cup program, with a goal of saving 7,000 cups a month, the company said in a statement. That means Starbucks needs to get about 233 people per day to choose reusable over disposable. The company should be ready for that number and then some; 2,000 reusable cups are available for airport customers. Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how many cups have been reused so far.

"We know that people care about waste, but it's often hard to 'do the right thing' when travelling," Hubbub CEO Trewin Restorick said in a statement. "We want to find out whether people will get on board with reusing cups, if we make it easy and convenient."

Choosing a reusable cup saves money as well as the planet, because customers who choose a disposable paper cup must pay 5 pence (about 6 cents), just like they must at all Starbucks stores in the U.K. Gatwick Airport currently recycles 5.3 million paper cups out of 7 million used in the airport each year, Starbucks said.

Unfamiliar with Starbucks' reusable cups? They've been available since 2013, and customers who bring one of their own in to use are rewarded with a small discount on their drink purchase.

The reusable cup program is far from the only way Starbucks is working to make environmentally smart choices. The Seattle-based coffee giant has made it a publicly announced goal to double the recycled content, recyclability, compostability and reusability of its cups and packaging by 2022.

And reusable cups are just part of that plan. In 2006, the company developed a paper cup made with 10 percent post-consumer recycled fiber, the first of its kind. In 2016, the chain introduced a more recyclable cup lid. The company made headlines in 2018 for announcing it will replace single-use plastic straws by 2020, and has developed a special strawless lid. (Plastic straws will still be available for customers who need and request them.) Is it almost time for a Starbucks run? Before you go, check out the healthiest and unhealthiest Starbucks drinks.