Protesters Hang 8,181 Cups at Starbucks Headquarters: Demand Recyclable Cup

November 27, 2017

[Seattle, WA] Protesters hung 8,181 disposable paper cups outside of Starbucks headquarters today to demand that the coffee giant serve recyclable cups. According to a report released today by, Starbucks serves 4.3 billion disposable paper cups a year that are only recyclable in a handful of cities. The 8,000 cups represents only one minute of the cups Starbucks serves every year. Stand is criticizing Starbucks for not taking responsibility for reducing more than a million trees cut every year to supply the company’s iconic cups.

“The disposable Starbucks coffee cup with its green mermaid logo is Starbuck’s top icon and also their biggest environmental problem,” said Todd Paglia, Stand executive director. “We asked Starbucks to address this issue early this year, now the Better Cup campaign moves into the action phase. Starbucks is going to have to contend with their broken promises, the truth about their cups, and forest destruction.”

In 2008 Starbucks said that by 2015 it would use only 100% recyclable cups, and serve 25% of its drinks in reusable mugs. According to Stand, most recyclers won’t take the cups because of the plastic coating. So with very few exceptions, even the cups consumers put into blue recycling bins are diverted into the trash.

“Starbucks cups destroy forests,” said Paglia. “We are hanging a huge 11 x 85-foot wall of cups to demonstrate the average number of cups Starbuck serves a minute — 8,181 cups every minute, every day of the year. It’s hard to imagine a million trees, chopped from forests around the world, used once and thrown in the garbage. The carbon pollution from these cups is equally to the pollution from 30,000 cars a year. ”

The Better Cup campaign is asking Starbucks to recommit to 100% recyclable cups, cups that are recyclable with existing recycling technology and standard paper. Ninety percent of the paper in current cups comes from destroyed forests, is used once and trashed. Stand is also asking for Starbucks to recommit to 25% cup reuse, the goal the company set for itself in 2008. Today only 2% of Starbucks coffee is served in reusable mugs.

The Stand report released today cites Starbucks efforts to address pollution from cups. The company held three summits with experts in 2009, 2010, and 2011. However, according to Stand, the company ultimately “backed away from its commitment to solving the cup dilemma.”

“Starbucks already knows it must give us a better cup for forests, for the climate, and for its customers,” says Paglia. “Existing, affordable technology exists, all that’s lacking is for Starbucks to apply the same innovation and determination that made it the world’s leading coffee company — it’s time for a better cup.”

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