Self-Regulation & Commitments Tableware & Utensil

Blue Bottle Coffee Company Stops Using Plastic and Paper Cups

Blue Bottle is putting an end to its plastic and paper cups, the Oakland company announced Monday.

Blue Bottle Coffee, Inc. is a coffee roaster and retailer headquartered in Oakland, California, United States. In 2017, a majority stake in the company was acquired by Nestlé. It is considered a major player in third wave coffee.

The company focuses on single-origin beans.

CEO Bryan Meehan issued a statement declaring all of their nearly 70 cafes in the United States could be zero waste by the end of 2020, following a pilot program of two zero-single-use-cup cafes at undisclosed locations in the Bay Area.

Though Meehan admitted the change would “wreak havoc on every aspect” of his company’s operations, he acknowledged the staggering impact of their disposable cups: Each Blue Bottle location, Meehan estimates, goes through 15,000 single-use cups per month, or 12 million per year in total.

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

Customers will be given the option of bringing their own mugs, or paying a small deposit to use one provided by Blue Bottle.

Additionally, the coffee shops will sell beans in bulk in lieu of single-use bags, and grab-and-go snacks will be served in reusable containers.

The move by Blue Bottle coincides with the City of Berkeley’s Single Use Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance, which mandates a 25-cent charge for the use of disposable cups (which must be compostable) beginning Jan. 1 and the exclusive use of reusable cups by July 1, 2020.

Blue Bottle has a location in downtown Berkeley.

“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,” Meehan said.

Meehan says Blue Bottle intends to set an example for its parent company, Nestlé, which has a set a much longer timeline for achieving similar goals.

Last year, Nestlé pledged to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025; the plan was followed by an adjacent objective to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Several coffee shops around the Bay Area have already made the change, utilizing a rental service framework in which customers pay a small deposit to borrow a cup. In Oakland, Perch doles out glass jars for 50 cents each.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story’s headline implied all Blue Bottle locations in the U.S. would stop using single-use cups by the end of 2020.

As stated in the story, Blue Bottle is first testing zero-single-use-cup cafés at undisclosed Bay Area locations as part of a pilot program.

The company plans to be zero waste by the end of 2020.



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Bring your mug: Some Blue Bottles will no longer use plastic or paper cups

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