PDX Teams Up with Starbucks to Explore Coffee Cup Recycling

More than 6,000 hot beverage cups travel through PDX daily, resulting in over 2.2 million cups sent to the landfill each year. Because most hot beverage containers aren’t accepted into Oregon’s recycling stream, a large amount of productive material is wasted. That is why the Port, Starbucks, and HMS Host (operators of Starbucks at PDX) joined forces to help find a recyclable solution, one cup at a time.


Port Aviation environmental compliance manager Stan Jones and the PDX Recycles Team worked with Starbucks as part of a national effort to find a solution. Our goal at PDX was simple: Gather enough cups to conduct an initial study to determine if the hot beverage cups could be accepted into the recycled cardboard stream.


The pilot program collected nearly 500 pounds of used coffee cups at PDX over a two month period. Cups were sent to the Longview Fiber paper mill for a trial run. The results showed that hot beverage cups could indeed be pulped at the Washington mill and potentially accepted into the recycled cardboard production stream. Next, Starbucks will test a larger load to determine how a higher percentage of cups affects the overall pulping process and material mix.


This marks a major milestone in finding a solution to recycling hot beverage cups in Oregon. Here in Portland, we love our coffee AND recycling. Strategies that promote both are always encouraged, and we are pleased to work Starbucks and HMS Host on this project.