Five Starbucks coffee shops in the Seattle area have started a 60-day pilot program to see if Americans are willing to pay a little more for a reusable cup.
The "Borrow A Cup" program has users pay a $1 fee for their cup, which is then refunded when they scan a code and return it to a marked kiosk. The cups are sent to an off-site location to be cleaned, sanitized and sent back to stores for future use. (The fee is actually refunded via Starbucks' reward card, which is a pretty handy way for the company to ensure the actual cash stays in-house while customers return to buy again.)
Prefer to take your coffee to go? The company has joined with Ridwell, a company specializing in difficult-to-recycle products such as film, batteries and light bulbs. Users place the cup in a bag provided by the companies. Ridwell has regular neighborhood pickups in Seattle and collect the bags for cleaning, sanitizing and reuse.
It seems like a pretty complicated process for a reusable cup program that your local diner has always used (and without the extra fee) but Starbucks stores aren't set up for large-scale, sanitizing dishwashing operations. And if you ask for a Venti half-caf caramel frappuccino at your local diner, they may laugh at you.