You can’t get your own mug filled at Starbucks anymore because of coronavirus concerns

Company increases cleaning, sanitizing at stores, letter says

Environmentally conscious coffee lovers who bring their own mugs to buy fresh java at Starbucks will have to settle for paper cups for a while.

Starbucks on Wednesday announced it is temporarily suspending the use of personal cups and tumblers at its North American stores to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The company will continue to honor its 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup or tumbler for coffee, even though customers can't use them, said Rossann Williams, Starbucks' president of company-operated businesses in the United States and Canada.

"We are optimistic this will be a temporary situation," Williams said in an open letter posted on the company's website.

Starbucks said it is increasing the number of cleanings at all its company-operated stores and suspending business-related air travel, both domestic and international, for the rest of March. Large meetings at the company's offices in the United States and Canada are being postponed or modified, the company said.

"We will continue to communicate with transparency and act courageously and responsibly to ensure the health and well-being of our partners and customers," Williams said.

Starbucks declined to comment about how long it would suspend the bring-your-own-mug program. The Seattle-based coffee chain has given customers discounts for using their own cups for new purchases since 1985, according to the company's website.

In 2010, Starbucks launched a campaign promoting the use of personal tumblers to reduce its paper trash output. The program has prevented millions of pounds of paper from ending up in landfills, the company said.

Starbucks announced Wednesday that its stores will stop the use of personal cups amid the spread of the coronavirus.

Customers who bring their own cups or request “fore here” ware will still receive the 10-cent discount, the coffee chain announced in an open letter from EVP and President Rossann Williams.

“Our focus remains on two key priorities: Caring for the health and well-being of our partners and customers and playing a constructive role in supporting local health officials and government leaders as they work to contain the virus,” Williams said.

Starbucks has also increased cleaning and sanitizing for all company-operated stores to help prevent the spread of germs, according to the letter.

“As part of communities worldwide, we are navigating this situation with nimbleness, learning and adapting as new information is made available,” Williams said.

Business-related air travel, both domestic and international, has been restricted by the company through March 31 as well as the postponement of large meetings across offices in U.S. and Canada.

Williams said the company has learned from its team and partners in China who first faced the epidemic.