Starbucks planned to give customers ordering holiday beverages free, limited-edition red reusable cups at participating stores on November 2. The lidded cups would also be good for a small discount through early January. But supplies ran out rapidly that day, frustrating patrons.
The supply issue was also compounded by technical issues with the company’s mobile app, Forbes reported. Users said the app failed to recognize store locations and didn’t accept the orders. Starbucks apologized on Twitter for the outages.
COO Roz Brewer told CNBC that the goal of the giveaway was to encourage the habit of using reusable cups. However, customers tweeted that some stores only received 25 red reusable cups, and baristas who ran out had to fill their orders in paper cups.
Sustainable cups have become a priority for the coffee chain. Earlier this year, Starbucks invested $10 million in the NextGen Cup Challenge, an industry consortium working on developing fully recyclable and compostable cups. At the same time, they began internally testing a bio-liner made in part from plant-based materials.
“The internal trial, expected to take six months, will test not only for environmental impact, but whether the cup’s liner can stand up to stringent safety requirements and quality standards when filled with a hot liquid,” Starbucks said.
Over the summer, the company committed to phasing out plastic straws from stores worldwide by 2020. Starbucks also announced that a new recyclable teardrop-shaped plastic lid would become the standard for iced drinks.
This week the chain began selling their red reusable cups for $2.50. Customers who bring in the cup receive a 50-cent discount off 16-ounce-sized holiday beverage purchases through January 7, the company says.