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.
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.
Although initially a North American ban, Starbucks announced Friday that it would stop personal mug internationally as well.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are pausing the use of personal cups or tumblers in our stores across Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” the company said in a statement.
Starbucks said it would temporarily stop charging customers for paper cups in the United Kingdom and Germany.
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.