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Starbucks to expand reusable cup program to Seoul

A Starbucks customer returns a reusable cup at one of its plastic-free stores. (Starbucks Korea)
A Starbucks customer returns a reusable cup at one of its plastic-free stores. (Starbucks Korea)

Starbucks Korea announced Thursday that a dozen of its locations in Seoul will get rid of single-use plastic cups as part of the chain’s ongoing efforts to reduce plastic waste.

Starting Saturday, 12 Starbucks stores in Seoul will serve beverages only in mugs, tumblers or reusable cups. These include the City Hall Station, Seosomun-ro and Eulji-ro branches in the city center.

Seoul is the second location where the coffee chain has decided to move away from single-use plastic cups, after the southern island of Jeju. Since July, the firm has stopped using disposable plastic cups at four of its locations on the island.

The reusable cups cost 1,000 won ($0.85), which is fully refundable upon their return -- in cash, Happy Habit app points or Starbucks reward points. Customers can return them to any of the 12 locations or use any of the 14 cup return machines throughout the city.

With the expansion of the program to Seoul, the coffee chain expects to eliminate around 500,000 single-use plastic cups. All Starbucks locations in Seoul will join the initiative sometime next year, it said.

“We will continue to raise awareness of multi-use cups and encourage customers to bring their own cups and eventually increase the number of plastic cups reduced,” said an official from Starbucks Korea.

In April, Starbucks said it aimed to eliminate disposable cups at all of its stores in South Korea by 2025.

In 2018, Starbucks stopped using plastic straws at its stores in Korea and replaced them with paper straws.

There are some 1,200 Starbucks outlets in the country.

By Kang Jae-eun (kang.jaeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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