Starbucks is putting public health first until the coronavirus situation improves. The coffee giant has announced a decision to temporarily suspend its practice of refilling people’s personal cups as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread.

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Because Starbucks is a popular place to socialize, with more than 30,000 stores worldwide, executives recognize the importance of being proactive in fighting the viral spread. Thus they’re opting for disposable cups indefinitely. “We are optimistic this will be a temporary situation,” Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks-operated businesses in the U.S. and Canada, said in an open letter on the company’s website.

Related: This giant Cup Monster wants Starbucks to use recyclable cups

In 1985, Starbucks began giving customers a discount if they brought in their own personal cups. The program became more formalized in 2008, when the company set a goal of serving 25% of all beverages in either personal or “for here” cups by 2015. Starbucks failed to track “for here” use and eventually revised the goal to concentrate on more people bringing in personal tumblers. Starbucks will still give customers a 10-cent discount for bringing in a personal cup or asking for a “for here” cup during the suspension, but all drinks will be served in the single-use paper or plastic cups.

Other coronavirus prevention strategies include increased sanitizing and cleaning of all company-operated stores, restricting both domestic and international business-related air travel through March 31 and postponing or modifying meetings for U.S. and Canada offices. Starbucks is also training employees on dealing with the virus. “We have provided scenario-based procedural information to our store teams on how to report and support anyone that may express they’ve been impacted by the virus, including store closure decision making support,” Williams said.

For now, the suspension of the personal cup program is indefinite. As new developments unfold in the epidemic, Starbucks will modify its response. Williams 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.”

Still, if you need your morning coffee, the most sustainable, cheapest and healthiest option is to brew it at home.

+ Starbucks


Image via Quan Le