BYO mug: Popular coffee chain aims to eliminate plastic and paper cups

The company has pledged to make all 70 of its U.S. locations zero waste by 2020.

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Coffee chain Blue Bottle has become the latest large company looking to reduce plastic waste by testing a program aimed at eliminating paper and plastic cups at all of its locations across the country.

Blue Bottle CEO Bryan Meehan said in a statement that by the end of 2020, all 70 of its U.S. cafes will be zero waste, which means at least 90% of their waste is diverted from landfill.

Coffee chain Blue Bottle is testing a program eliminating single-use plastic and paper coffee cups. Blue Bottle Coffee Lab

To achieve that goal, the company is testing a zero-single-use-cup program at its locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, encouraging customers to bring their own mugs for coffee or pay "a modest deposit" for a reusable cup provided by Blue Bottle.

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

Meehan admitted it's an experiment that "may not work, that may cost us money, and that may make your life a little more complicated."

The company, which is based in Oakland, California, goes through an average of 15,000 disposable, single-use cups at each of its U.S. locations every month, which is 12 million cups a year, according to Meehan.

"We’re not afraid to admit that we’re part of the problem,'' he said.

Meehan also noted that he hopes the change will inspire Blue Bottle's parent company, Nestlé, to do more. Nestle has set a longer timeline for environmental change, pledging to making all its packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025 and become carbon-neutral by 2050.

He admitted that the new policy may rankle some customers.

"A commitment to reuse will wreak havoc on every aspect of our pilot cafe’s operations,'' he said. "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."

Blue Bottle joins companies like Starbucks, McDonald's, Kroger, IKEA and Dunkin' that have announced they are greatly reducing or eliminating plastic and styrofoam straws, cups and bags from their locations.