Recently, I stopped at a Starbucks while traveling and requested no lid with my drink because I was drinking it there, and also because I graduated from a sippy cup when I was 5. The barista told me I had to take a lid, and when I refused, she took the un-used, brand new lid and threw it in the trash, saying "We get in trouble if I don't give you a lid." They're required to give customers lids for hot and cold drinks, even if the customer doesn't want it. What a waste!
When I returned to LA, I started doing some research. Starbucks does have plans to put recycling in all of their locations, and they recently released a new reusable cup (that I carry when in LA) to encourage their customers to cut down on waste. But in the meantime, Starbucks trash bins are literally overflowing. Starbucks sells approximately 4 billion cups of coffee a year -- that's BILLIONS of plastic lids winding up in landfills EVERY YEAR. I think that's about 11 million lids a DAY! 500,000 an HOUR!
If Starbucks allowed customers to opt out of taking a lid, even if only a small percentage of people did it, hundreds of thousands of pounds of plastic could be kept out of landfills. Just like stores from Walmart to Whole Foods have been cutting back on their use of plastic bags, Starbucks can set an example for the coffee industry to reduce its plastic waste by making lids optional.
Why must I use a sippy cup? Starbucks claims it's a "liability issue", in other words money they could lose if someone spills and sues. Starbucks made 13.3 BILLION in profits in 2012, and all they'd have to do is put a sign in the window "If you refuse a lid and spill hot stuff on you, it is hot."
They already allow their customers in Canada to decide for themselves if they want a lid, so why can't customers choose in the US? Stop pushing plastic on those of us who know those lids go into a landfill in someone else's back yard. Tell Starbucks to give us a choice when it comes to lids, and let us take responsibility for our guilty pleasures and our environment.
Billions of plastic lids are thrown in the trash every year at your stores, and I recently learned that baristas are required to add to this waste by putting a lid on every cup sold. I'm asking you to change your lid policy to let environmentally-conscious customers opt out of adding to that plastic waste.
I know Starbucks has ambitious recycling goals over the next few years. And while I can't wait to see recycling in Starbucks stores, there are small steps you can take now to reduce waste significantly. By simply allowing customers to say no to lids, you can help divert many thousands of pounds of plastic waste from landfills, even if only a small percentage of customers participate.
Starbucks is a leader in the industry, and a leader in waste. But it doesn't have to be that way. I understand you may be worried about liability, but if you give customers the option to request no lid, it's their choice to take on the risk of potential spills. Please help your customers take responsibility for their drinks and the environment.
Show that you trust your customers and care for the environment by changing your policy that forces lids on all customers.