Starbucks Is Ditching Its Reusable Cups In Response To Coronavirus

Photographed by Kara Birnbaum.
The coronavirus — officially referred to as COVID-19 — has already killed 2,977 people across the globe and infected at least 87,137. It's affected everything from the economy to work to school and travel. And now it's impacting how you take your Starbucks coffee.
The Seattle-headquartered company is hitting pause on its use of reusable cups, including hard plastic and “for here” ceramic mugs. This, of course, is all done in the name of safety as health officials around the world grapple to stop the virus from spreading. But some people aren’t thrilled with the choice to de-prioritize sustainability. 
The coffee chain is assuring customers that it made this change based on guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other local health authorities, according to Rossann Williams, EVP and President of U.S. and Canada-operated businesses, who put out a statement on the company’s website. 
Now, the popular latte lair will only serve up their sips in disposable cups. One silver lining: They’ll still honor the 10-cent discount that’s offered to those who BYOC, but won't use them.
“We will continue to act thoughtfully and courageously despite the disruption and uncertainty COVID-19 brings to our daily lives,” Williams wrote in the statement. “As part of communities worldwide, we are navigating this situation with nimbleness, learning and adapting as new information is made available.” Starbucks has also ramped up “cleaning and sanitizing for all company-operated stores to help prevent the spread of all germs, adding paid time for our partners supporting this work.”
The chain has also restricted business-related travel for its employees for the rest of the month. 
This temporary change in policy comes after the release of a new report in the Journal of Hospital Infection, which noted that this specific virus can survive on various surfaces for as many as nine days (meanwhile, on some surfaces it'll only last for two hours).
Still, some people have a few bones, er brews, to pick with the coffee chain for its decision.
“Starbucks isn’t taking personal cups anymore because of coronavirus, but it’s ok for me to take a cup from them after their employee has handled it?” one twitter user wrote. “I think undue paranoia and environment be dammed. So much for #Starbucks green image. (Oh, and they still have plastic straws.)” 
Meanwhile, some are worried that baristas will be the ones taking flack for a company-wide policy they have no power to change. “Just as a heads up, Starbucks on campus are now not accepting reusable cups due to coronavirus concerns,” another Twitter user wrote. “This isn’t something we have control over... This came directly from corporate and is non-negotiable.” 
Looks like a decision made out “of an abundance of caution" is eliciting an abundance of complaints.

More from Wellness

R29 Original Series