Weeklong Protest at Starbucks Headquarters asks for a #BetterCup

Activists with Stand.earth camped out at Starbucks HQ all week for a simple reason — because we want Starbucks to fulfill the commitment it made in 2008 to make a fully recyclable cup, one without a plastic lining.

Starbucks Cup Wall

This week, Stand.earth wrapped up a 5-day protest at Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle as part of our #BetterCup campaign that saw visits from the beloved Cup Monster, an art installation of our Cup Wall, climate caroling with youth ambassadors with Plant for the Planet, and lots of engaging conversations with Starbucks executives and staff.

Read more about our #BetterCup protest at Starbucks Headquarters.

We camped out at Starbucks HQ all week for a simple reason — because we want Starbucks to fulfill the commitment it made in 2008 to make a fully recyclable cup, one without a plastic lining. 

Our recent report, Trashed: The Secret of the Starbucks Cup, explains how Starbucks cups cannot be processed in most recycling facilities because of that plastic lining. Instead, most of the 4+ billion cups Starbucks serves annually end up in landfills. 

Although Starbucks rightly states that coffee cups are accepted for recycling in a few major cities — including Seattle — the percentage of cups that successfully make it through the entire recycling process remains unclear. We’re asking Starbucks to take responsibility for what it directly controls — how its cups are made. We explained some of this in an open letter to Starbucks staff, which we handed out to employees as they arrived for work.  

Highlights from the protest

  • On Monday morning, we set up our Cup Wall in front of Starbucks HQ — an art installation made of 8,000 used Starbucks cups, symbolizing the number of paper cups thrown away every minute of every day, to a tune of 4+ BILLION per year. 
  • On Wednesday afternoon, Youth Climate Justice Ambassadors from Plant for the Planet joined us for a round of Climate Caroling at Starbucks HQ. Check out their songs online, including such hilarious hits as “Oh Starbucks Cups, You Could Have Been A Christmas Tree” and “Jingle Bells, Your Cup Smells.”
  • On Thursday evening, our beloved 12-foot high Cup Monster, affectionately named Grounds, was feeling a little hungry after being outside Starbucks Headquarters all week, so we accompanied him as he went hunting for used Starbucks paper cups to fill his belly. His search led him to the Seattle Sounders game, where he delighted fans and children alike — and taught them a little about the Better Cup Campaign. Hear a message from the Starbucks Cup Monster himself.

See more photos of the Cup Monster and Cup Wall.

What’s next for the Better Cup campaign?

Over the next few months we’ll be ramping up our campaign in exciting and creative ways to convince Starbucks to finally keep its promise and make a #BetterCup. We know that when Starbucks decides it truly wants a 100% recyclable cup, manufacturers will respond and develop a 100% recyclable cup. Let’s help them get there. Write Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson here.