The white paper cups are used for hot beverages and are lined with polyethylene plastic to keep the paper intact by protecting it from the hot drink. The paper on the outside of the cup is needed for its rigidity and to keep the form of the cup. Unfortunately, the plastic liner makes the cup unrecyclable in most paper recycling systems.
Starbucks says they continually look for other options so that their cups may be recyclable, but have yet to find anything. Their hot beverage sleeves were made to eliminate double cupping and are recyclable. They are made of 60 percent post-consumer recycled fiber. They also give a 10 cent discount when customers use their own cups instead of Starbucks’ disposable ones.
Starbucks has also begun to offer “for here” mugs to customers who stay in the store to enjoy their coffee. They also recycle milk jugs, cardboard, and paper used by the coffee chain to store their supplies.