Protesting Citizens Deliver Giant Holiday Cup To Starbucks in Seattle

November 10, 2016

Every Year Starbucks Serves Over 4 Billion Paper Cups that Can’t Be Recycled

Seattle – This morning, Starbuck’s launch of its annual holiday cup was met with concerned citizens and activists dressed as reindeer delivering a 12-foot tall Holiday Cup to the Westlake Center Starbucks at the corner of Pine Street and 4th Avenue. The activists had an additional delivery: they handed out disposable paper cups that, unlike Starbucks’ cups, are recyclable in standard recycling facilities. Currently Starbucks cups are not recyclable almost anywhere because of their plastic lining.

Starbucks serves more than four billion paper cups annually – 8,000 a minute. Assuming that Starbucks uses holiday cups exclusively between now and New Year’s day, that means that more than 580 million holiday cups will end up in the trash.

“580 million red cups in the trash is not the holiday gift that Starbucks customers deserve,” said Jim Ace of “It’s long past time for Starbucks to deliver a better cup that can be recycled.”

Starbucks can do better. And the company knows it: in 2008 Starbucks acknowledged that its cups were a problem and pledged to create a solution. The company committed to make its cups recyclable and serve more coffee in reusable cups. They set ambitious goals for 2012 and failed, then pushed the deadline to 2015, made no changes to their cups, then seemed to drop their commitment entirely.

Alternatives exist – in fact Starbucks is testing one in England right now, but the company continues to avoid taking real responsibility for the environmental impact of the over 8,000 paper cups it serves every minute, the vast majority of which end up in the trash.

Across North America, people (and reindeer) are demanding that Starbucks:

  • Recommit to 100% recyclable cups ​

Did you know that a Starbucks paper cup isn’t just paper? The inside of the cup is coated with plastic. That plastic coating can gum up paper recycling machines, so most recycling companies won’t process the cups. Serving a cup that could be recycled with standard paper would be a simple solution to this problem and would save over 8,000+ cups a minute from going into landfills.

  • Recommit to 25% re-use

Reusable mugs are the most responsible approach, yet Starbucks serves fewer than 2% of its hot drinks in reusable mugs. It’s time for Starbucks to get serious and provide better incentives to help customers make the switch. In 2012, Starbucks  committed to 25% more coffee being served in reusable mugs. It’s time to bring back washable, reusable mugs for customers who are staying in the store to meet this goal.

Solutions to all of these challenges are possible, and Starbucks is just the type of innovative company to develop them.  But the company needs to step up and take meaningful action.

For more information, download the Starbucks Cups Destroy Forests report and visit

Photos from today’s action can be found here.