San Francisco Cafes Including Blue Bottle Coffee Are Banishing Disposable To-Go Cups

"We expect to lose some business. We know some of our guests won't like it, and we're prepared for that."

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BYO coffee cup, anyone?

Neighborhood coffee shops in the San Francisco area started replacing paper to-go cups with glass jars, bring-your-own cup policies, rental mugs and more in an effort to reduce waste. Now, a growing number of San Francisco cafes are hoping on board with the environmentally-friendly trend, the AP reports.

Spearheading the movement is Atelier Crenn owner and restaurateur Dominique Crenn, who plans to open an entirely plastic-free cafe in San Francisco next year. The critically-acclaimed chef’s new spot won’t offer traditional to-go bags or coffee cups. Instead, customers will be encouraged to bring their own reusable versions, spokeswoman Kate Bittman told the AP.

Blue Bottle (a coffee chain with locations in major cities across the world, including New York City and Tokyo) will stop using paper cups entirely at two San Francisco locations in 2020 — the company says it wants to “show our guests and the world that we can eliminate disposable cups,” according to the AP.

As an alternative, customers will be able to bring their own to-go mugs or pay a deposit fee of between $3 and $5 for a reusable cup, which they can keep or return for a refund, according to the AP.

Blue Bottle CEO Bryan Meehan said in a statement: “We expect to lose some business. We know some of our guests won’t like it, and we’re prepared for that.”

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When food and beverage companies started pledging to eliminate plastic straws years ago, they were most often replaced with paper ones — so what’s the problem with paper cups? Well, most contain a hard-to-recycle plastic lining in order to prevent leakage, Bridget Croke, of New York-based recycling investment firm Closed Loop Partners, told the AP.

Although Croke is working with major coffee distributors Starbucks and McDonalds on a paper to-go cup alternative, she told the AP it’s unlikely they’ll find a solution anytime soon.

Still, both multibillion-dollar giants are creating other eco-friendly programs and partnerships to reduce their carbon footprint. According to the AP, both contributed $10 million to partner with Closed Loop and develop the “single-use cup of the future.”

In addition, Starbucks — whose goal is to double their “recycled content, recyclability and compostability, and reusability of our cups and packaging by 2022,” according to their website — takes 10 cents off any order when a customer brings in a reusable cup.

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