Starbucks suspends reusable cup program due to coronavirus concerns
The change, which the company says it hopes is temporary, took effect Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
Customers who bring a reusable cup, travel mug or tumbler will still get the 10 cent discount the chain normally offers in such cases, but won’t actually be able to use the cup.
Once purchased, customers can chose to transfer the beverage to a reusable cup — since some prefer to use non-single use containers because they are more spill proof or keep beverages hot or cold longer.
However, that would obviously still cause a paper cup to be utilized in the exchange.
“We are optimistic this will be a temporary situation,” reads a statement on the company’s website.
The change is presumably meant to help reduce contact with surfaces touched by bare hands.
Behind the scenes, the company is stepping up cleaning procedures at its owned stores as well as halting business travel and postponing or reformatting large meetings (something other major companies have also initiated).
Starbucks has offered its “bring your own cup” program since 1985 but has stepped up efforts to publicize it in recent years as consumers have started raising concerns around its most non-recyclable paper cups (the lining in the cups and contact with beverage makes them unsuitable for recycling in most municipalities).
The company has also used the program to help cut down on use of its recyclable plastic cups and non-recyclable trademark green straws for cold beverages.
Both cold and warm beverages will need to be served in single use cups during the program’s suspension.
Even when the program is running as normal, health codes typically prohibit food service workers from touching any lids or straws of reusable containers.