Starbucks stops customers using own cups in bid to contain coronavirus

(Reuters) – Starbucks Corp <SBUX.O> has stopped accepting reusable cups and thermos flasks from customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to prevent the spread of coronavirus, though it will still honor the promised discount for anyone carrying one.

The world’s biggest coffee chain had announced a similar policy for the United States on Wednesday.

Companies across the world are having to rethink the way they operate to slow the spread of a virus that first emerged in China, with some opting to freeze travel, stockpile goods and have staff work from home.

For Starbucks that means pausing the use of personal cups or tumblers in its stores out “of an abundance of caution”.

Coffee chains have in recent years encouraged customers to bring their own reusable cups or thermal tumblers to cut the number of paper cups and plastic lids that end up in landfill.

Many offer discounts or increased loyalty stamps to promote the trend.

“We will continue to honor existing discounts for anyone who brings in a personal cup,” Starbucks said.

“As a result, we are suspending our 5p (UK) and 5c (Germany) charges for paper cups as well, given this decision prevents customers from opting for reusables.”

(Reporting by Kate Holton in London and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey and Shounak Dasgupta)

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