Protesters target Starbucks with 'Cup Monster,' demand easier-to-recycle cups

An environmental activism group based in Bellingham, Wash., is hoping its “Cup Monster” will scare Starbucks into using more sustainable drinkware.

Earlier this week, activists with arrived outside of GeekWire's annual summit at the Seattle Sheraton, where Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson had taken the stage to discuss Starbucks’ transition into a tech-savvy company at the annual GeekWire summit, GeekWire reports. The group was reportedly protesting the company’s use of certain harder-to-recycle materials in its drink cups, and order to drive their point home, they brought along the aforementioned Cup Monster, which was cobbled together from used Starbucks cups.


“If Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is serious about transforming his company into a tech leader, he must first solve his company’s biggest environmental liability: the 8,000 [plus] cups that go into landfills every minute of every day,” said spokesperson Ross Hammond in a statement to GeekWire.

“We hope Seattle’s tech leaders will join us in calling on Starbucks to stop serving 21st century coffee in a 20th century cup.”

According to the Seattle Times, Starbucks cups contain a plastic lining on the inside, which prevents it from being easily recyclable in certain areas.


Starbucks, however, has maintained that the cups are completely recyclable in many major cities including Seattle, Boston, New York, San Francisco and Washington. D.C., but added that “what is recyclable" is different from place to place in a statement obtained by Fox News.

In response to the most recent protest, a Starbucks spokesperson tells Fox News that “Starbucks cups are some of the most recyclable in the industry," and that the company is proud if its initiatives to develop a greener cup.

"Since 2006, our hot cups have contained 10 percent post-consumer fiber — it’s the first of its kind approved by the U.S. FDA. This year, we replaced our hot cup lids so they can be recycled in more communities. We also have offered a cup discount since 1985 and spent millions to encourage reusable mugs and tumblers since 1985.

"It’s important to note that what is recyclable varies significantly by municipality and sometimes even by store. We pay local private haulers across the country to collect and recycle hot cups along with our other recyclable products, compost and trash. We can always do better and we certainly encourage efforts to convince others across the industry and communities to work together towards a solution," writes Starbucks in its statement.

This isn't the first time has utilized its Cup Monster to taunt Starbucks. In March, the group brought the creation to the company's annual shareholders meeting at the Seattle Center, reports The Seattle Times.

At the time, Todd Paglia, the executive director of, told Seattle’s KOMO news that Starbucks agreed to develop a completely recyclable cup back in 2008, but never did so.

"They can't be recycled, and that costs the world a million trees every single year,” said Paglia, whose organization has rallyied against the coffee chain's choice of cups in the past.


The Seattle Times reports that Paglia attended the question-and-answer portion of the Starbucks shareholders meeting in March, where he was invited by Johnson to discuss his concerns at another time.

The group had originally planned to construct a 90-foot-tall “coffee wall” outside the shareholders meeting in March as well, but police stopped them, according to KOMO.