Starbucks Japan is leading the way to a more sustainable future through the introduction of four new measures aiming at reducing plastic waste produced in stores. These efforts are part of the chain’s global plan to reduce plastic waste by 50% by the year 2030.

Whilst further measures are expected to be added to the bill, the first four being implemented are detailed below.

1. No more plastic cups – replacement of disposable cups by glasses

The first effort will see Starbucks Japan switch out the use of disposable plastic cups for glasses when it comes to iced beverages enjoyed in store.
The resin glasses have already been trialled at a handful of selected stores in Tokyo and will be expanded to 106 Starbucks stores across Japan from the 18th of April. At the same time, the chain will continue to encourage customers to bring their own containers for drinks, and will also be increasing the promotion of Starbucks reusable tumblers which can be purchased in store.

Start date: 18th April 2022
Where: 106 Starbucks stores across Japan
Target Beverage: Frappuccino and other iced drinks
*Venti and Grande sizes will be available at only some stores for the time being

2. No more plastic cups – rent-a-tumbler options will be introduced

Last autumn Starbucks Japan started trialling a rent-a-tumbler programme at 10 stores in the Marunouchi area. As part of the new measures, this programme will be expanded to a further 9 stores, this time located in Shibuya.

The programme allows customers to choose a reusable tumbler for their drink instead of the disposable ones currently used. These tumblers can be rented for a period of up to three days, after which they can be returned to the store where they will be washed and available to use once again.
The concept is still under review, and the chain has been analysing customer feedback from participating stores located in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Start date: 4th April 2022
Where: 9 stores located in Shibuya – Shibuya Koen-dori store, Shibuya Parco store, MIYASHITA PARK store, Shibuya cocoti store, Shibuya Modi store, Shibuya Bunkamura-dori store, Jingu-mae 6-chome store, SHIBUYA TSUTAYA store, Shibuya fire street store*
Target Beverage: Frappuccino and other iced drinks
*Shibuya fire street store currently only accepts cup returns and cleaning

3. Plastic lid-free drinks

At 113 stores across Japan iced beverages consumed in stores will be provided without plastic lids. Nationwide expansion of this particular initiative is expected to be complete by the summer.
For safety and convenience of carry reasons, hot beverages purchased for take-out will still be served with a plastic lid.

Start date: 18th April 2022
Where: 113 stores across Japan
Target Beverage: Iced and hot beverages purchased for instore consumption, only iced beverages for out-of-store consumption
*Children’s drinks will still be served with a lid

4. Replacement of single-use plastic cutlery with environmentally friendly utensils

The final measure will see stores swapping out single-use plastic cutlery for stainless steel alternatives when used in store and utensils made from 100% plant derived materials when needed for take-out.
This measure alone is expected to reduce about 60 tons of petroleum-derived plastics annually, as well as lead to the dropping of the chain’s annual disposable cutlery use by up to 44%.

Starbucks is introducing Green Planet ® cutlery in place of the former conventional polystyrene utensils. These eating tools are made of 100% plant-derived material and have received a OK Biodegradable MARINE certification.
Through analysis it has been found that these plant alternatives should reach 90% or more of biodegradation when submerged in seawater of 30°C for 6 months.

The switch to stainless steel and plant alternatives has already begun, with stores beginning to implement the new cutlery from mid-March.

This isn’t the first time Starbucks Japan has taken steps in the direction of sustainability, for example back in 2019 the brand teamed up with stationery supplies company Kokuyo and released a collaboration notebook made from recycled milk cartons. On another occasion the chain introduced a limited-time sustainable carrot cake that was produced using carrots grown in recycled espresso compost, and last but not least, in Autumn of 2021 the chain launched a programme that sees all stores marking foods at a 20% discounted price 3 hours before closing.
With so many different ways to increase sustainability we can’t wait to see what the chain has planned next

By - Connie Sceaphierde.