Starbucks has introduced a new $1 plastic cup in an effort to reduce waste and encourage customers to reuse.
The leading coffee chain goes through approximately 4 billion cups a year, based on figures from its website. It currently offers a 10 cent discount to customers that bring in their own cups and most stores also sell mugs and thermoses. The new effort hopes to further encourage customers to use a reusable cup by offering a more affordable option.
"It's not a burden for people to buy two or three," Jim Hanna, the director of environmental affairs at Starbucks, has said, according to USA Today.
The news cups are only one part of a plan to make all Starbucks cups 100 percent recyclable by 2015.
"As one of many operating foodservice businesses, Starbucks is working to lead the entire industry toward greater access to recycling for cups and other packaging," the company website explained. "Ultimately we want our cups to be recyclable in both material and practice, so that our customers have access to recycling services wherever they choose to dispose of their cups."
Americans use an estimated 16 billion coffee cups a year, according to a study at Daytona University. That figure represents approximately 6.5 million trees. Paper cups alone compose about 253 millions pounds of waste per year.
Coffee cups have come under particular criticism due to a plastic resin lining that keeps the contents warm and prevents leaks, but is also impossible to recycle.
Restaurant retailers that are skeptical about employing reusable cups argue cross contamination. Starbucks has noted that the plastic cups, like all other cups that are brought in by customers, will be cleaned with boiling water first.
A number of other food service providers offer cup discount, but say that few customers bring in their own cup.