Coffee chain ditching cups in 2020, customers must "rent" or bring their own

Blue Bottle Coffee customers will need to bring their own containers, or put a deposit down on one, to get a beverage at the high-end chain in the new year. In an ambitious zero waste effort, they are removing plastic and paper cups (and bags) from all of their cafes in the United States.

From a statement Monday by its CEO Bryan Meehan (bolding mine):

"…we're not afraid to admit that we're part of the problem. We recently woke up to the fact that our beautiful bioplastic cups and straws were not being composted even though they were 100 percent compostable. Too many ended up in landfills, where they couldn't break down at all. So we switched to paper straws and sugarcane-paper cups. But that's still not enough. We still go through on average 15,000 disposable single-use cups per cafe per month in the US alone, which adds up to 12 million cups per year. We want to show our guests and the world that we can eliminate disposable cups as we serve our delicious coffee.

We are proud to announce an experiment that may not work, that may cost us money, and that may make your life a little more complicated.

By the end of 2020, all of our US cafes will be zero waste, which according to Zero Waste International Alliance, means at least 90 percent of our waste is diverted from landfill. To help us go even further, we will test our first zero-single-use-cup program in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This pilot will celebrate reuse as an act of aesthetic delight. You can bring your own cup, or use one of ours. We will provide a beautiful cup that will require a modest deposit, which you can return to the cafe for cleaning. We'll also sell our whole-bean coffees in bulk instead of single-use bags and our grab-and-go items in reusable containers. This pilot will help guide us on how to implement this program nationwide…

A commitment to reuse will wreak havoc on every aspect of our pilot cafe's operations. We expect to lose some business. We might fail. We know some of our guests won't like it—and we're prepared for that. But the time has come to step up and do difficult things. It's our responsibility to the next generation to change our behavior. It's all hands on deck."

I applaud the effort but let's please remember that Nestlé owns a 68% stake in Blue Bottle (a simple google search of "Nestlé evil" will tell you why that's significant).

image via Blue Bottle Coffee's statement