The $1.00 reusable plastic Starbucks cup – Pays for itself in ten uses!

The $1.00 reusable Starbucks cup is here:

I promised myself that I’d slow down on blog posts, but this really caught my eye!  Starbucks is now selling (as of October 2, 2012) a Grande-sized (16 ounces) re-usable plastic cup.  The price tag is only $1.00.  This cup is essentially a plastic cup that looks like the iconic Starbucks paper cup – it’s much thinner than a typical re-usable tumbler, but  it is sturdier than a paper cup.  Because it’s a thin plastic, it’s estimated to have a lifespan of about 30 uses.  It’s only $1.00!  Use it ten times, and it’s paid for itself with the cup discount.  When you use your own cup, mug, or tumbler at Starbucks, you save ten cents on your drink.

Starbucks has been trying all kinds of things to try to get people to bring in their cup more often.  For example, on Earth Day, Starbucks typically offers free brewed coffee to customers who bring in their own cup.  Another example happened in January this year.  Some might remember that Starbucks offered a special promo tumbler where if the customer brought in that tumbler during January this year, brewed coffee was free.  The percentage of customers who really bring their own cup, mug, or tumbler into Starbucks is embarrassingly low.  Hey customers, please start reusing your own mug or cup!

According to the 2011 Starbucks Global Responsibility Report, for several years in a row, the rate of customers using a personal cup has been less than 2 percent of all transactions.  That’s shamefully low.  In 2009, only 1.5 percent of transactions included a personal cup discount.  In 2010, that number was 1.8 percent.  And in 2011, it had only grown to 1.9 percent.

There are only two things that will improve that number: First off, customers have to make it habit to use their own cup.  Keep it in your car.  Throw it in your tote.  Throw it in your briefcase.  And secondly, the baristas at the registers cannot forget to ring in that personal cup discount.  That’s it.  Of course the larger issue is actually getting customers to bring in their own cup.

With this new plastic cup, it will pay for itself with ten uses.  Then after that, you throw it in your recycling because both the cup and lid are fully recyclable.  My understanding is that because it is a fairly thin plastic, you will likely still need a sleeve for your beverage.  For your information, I’ve been told that it’s dishwasher safe for the top shelf of a dishwasher.

I’ve already heard partners saying that they didn’t get a lot of these cups in stock, so if you’re going to get one, don’t delay.

Would you use this little cup?  What do you think?

Edit on October 3, 2012: This appears to be a Pacific Northwest item only.  Hopefully there will be a national launch of this later.


On a change of topic, I still really need your help fundraising for Food Lifeline, a hunger relief organization which supplies food to over 300 food banks and meal programs in Western Washington.  Even if you can only donate a small amount, your help is needed.  The fundraising project is to make jam for food banks with donated berries.  Please help.  The donation link is here.  Seriously, to anyone reading this:  please help Food Lifeline keep food banks full and stocked.  The need is great.




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  • Maka Polaha

    Hey guys! There’s any chance that I can find one to buy online? Unfurtunately I live in Italy where there are no Starbucks coffee shops…too bad for me that I love them so much!

  • SnowWhite

    Has there been any more chatter on these cups? I’ve checked a number of stores in suburban Philly and no sight of them, I was hoping they’d come in as a Holiday item. That said, all the attendees of the Leadership Conference got one as well, so I’m about to abscond with my boyfriend’s cup so I can use it 😉

  • Nathan

    I just got out of a planning meeting today and it looks as if the cups will be coming to all stores in early January! Can’t wait to get one :)

  • Melody

    Thanks for the update Nathan!

  • Leslee

    I absolutely love these cups! Dear Son brought me three when he visited from Seattle to California at Thanksgiving. Although not a ‘thermal’ mug it is a nice grip, easy to clean and a great size!! Look forward to having them available to all California coffee drinkers ~

  • Barb

    This is a good idea, but hard to use. I just broke three nails trying to get the lid off? Anyone know what the trick is?

  • DadCooks

    @Barb – grasp the cup with both hands, thumbs facing up, with both thumbs gently push upward on the base of the lid and it will pop loose.

    My Daughter has wonderful naturally long fingernails (people remark and her manicurist is amazed) so “Dad” is always helping her come up with ways to preserve her nails.

    I hope this helps you too.

  • Matt

    Becareful of buying these on Ebay. While most that are sold by US sellers are legitimate,

    the ones from Taiwan or HK are sketch. For example, as far as I know, Starbucks first introduced these in Seattle late 2012 to begin with. But Starbucks in Tawian has them too? Not to mention the cups look different. The catchphrase is missing from the Chinese ones, not to mention the bottom looks totally different. I have seen the real ones being sold on ebay for $4.99. More than the $1.00 you can get at the store but, you pay for shipping and a little profit I guess.

  • Jess J

    I am sad to report that Starbucks has doubled the cost of these reusable cups to $2 each. It happened overnight and without warning and no one seems to know why!

  • Melody

    @Jess J – There is possibly a logical answer to your comment above. The plain white re-usable cups are one dollar. However, when those get replaced with more decorative limited-time cups (this happened during the holidays last year) the price goes up to $2. Then, when the decorative cups sell out, or for some reason are no longer sold, and the plain white cups return, they are one dollar.

    Right now, the plain white ones are replaced with the ones with an artistic design on them – those will be a little more money – two dollars.

  • Shirley

    I know I’m late to this particular party… but are these Starbucks cups still available anywhere?

  • Teresa Schmidt

    Right now I am kinda pissed at my local Starbucks I am on a very fixed income plus have two special needs kids so the money isn’t exactly flowing in but my only indulgence is my Starbucks coffee once a week now I had read somewhere that they pretty much charge you for milk and ice in some drinks so I ordered Three shots and a shot of vanilla over ice in a ventilator cup and added the milk myself now since the shots were only 80cents each and the vanilla was like 60 or so cents it came out to about $3.11 which was pretty affordable so I was happy the forth week I went in and placed my order and was giving a price of almost over $9.00 and I told her I didn’t understand why it was do much she then proceeded to explain to me that they raised the price on their shots and it was now considered a iced drink they said it was now raised to $1.85per shot so for three shots plus the vanilla shot that was $0.60 with tax almost $9.00 I was like wow but the funny thing was I had ordered a drink and asked if I could get a extra shot and how much it would be they said the original price of 80cents so I guess people like me can no longer afford Starbucks which is sad they make so much money a day off people it was almost like the fact I was saving money was bothering them so I no longer go to Starbucks I did love their coffee but if the owners of that store are really that petty and will do whatever they can think k of to raise prices to avoid having people like me come in Their stores but I don’t feel bad that most of my money is spent on my kids I will have to find some where else to something for just me goodbye Starbucks forever I’m sure you won’t miss me lol

  • Choi

    I had used my own tumbler everytime ( about 3-5 times a week I go to starbucks) in Korea. Since I moved to the states, I have stopped using it after acouple times for 2 reasons.
    In Korea, 300 won (little less than 30cents) is discounted for using a reusuable cup. On top of having only 10cents discounted, either I forget to ask for a discount or partners forget to give the discount. Venti was 21oz. In Korea. I felt 24oz. Tumbler was quite bulky to carry in my bag.
    But I love the plastic thin resuable cups so much that I collect every version. I should start to bring my own resuable.

    Thank you for your posts!!! I just found out about this gem and love your site!!!

  • Choi

    Also, we can put discount for a use of tumbler even with the mobile orders in Korea. We just have to bring the tumbler to barista before they start to make it.

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