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A Citywide Reusable Cup Scheme is Coming to California

Next_Gen_Cups_Full_Res_Coffee 1

Closed Loop Partners press photo.

Coffee retailers big and small are joining in a new city-wide reusable cup program in Petaluma, California, as the industry continues to produce daily mountains of single-use-product waste.

The organizing firm Closed Loop Partners is pitching the program, called the Petaluma Reusable Cup Project, as an unprecedented collaborative effort among large retail competitors to drive reuse in the coffee industry.

It should be noted that several of the key participants are the same companies that wantonly perpetuate disposable packaging culture through convenience-based, fast-food retail models.

Starbucks, The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Peet’s Coffee and Yum! Brands are all participating in the reusable cup scheme alongside other national chains, regional chains and local purveyors.

Beginning Aug. 5 through November, more than 30 retail locations throughout Petaluma will take part in the short-term initiative.

Participating businesses will be using program-branded plastic cups as the default option for drink sales. More than 60 branded collection bins will be placed around the city of about 58,000 people. Cups will be regularly collected, cleaned and reused. There is no extra cost to consumers.

According to Closed Loop Partners, the hope is that the citywide participation among businesses of different brands and types will lead to greater reuse participation among consumers.


Starbucks press photo.

“While reuse is growing quickly, use of personal cups and existing takeaway reusable cup systems still face low adoption or low returns,” the firm said in an announcement of the product launch today. “For reuse to scale responsibly, it’s imperative to create an easy and enjoyable consumer experience that makes it easy for customers to remember to bring their own containers or to return one that was given to them.”

The effort has been supported by local and regional groups such as the City of Petaluma and Zero Waste Sonoma. It follows a Starbucks pilot program for reusable cups that took place in Petaluma last year.

Closed Loop Partners said the city was chosen in part because of a collective culture of reuse, support from local leaders and several geographic features.

“The size and dense layout of downtown Petaluma, with its tight cluster of restaurants and local shops within walking distance, and proximity to suburban and rural areas, creates the right conditions for testing a reuse system for to-go cups,” the firm said. “Collaboration with local stakeholders has helped adapt the initiative to local policy and infrastructure, identify optimal return points across the city and engage the broader community.”

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