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After weeks of guiltily buying coffee in takeaway cups, we’re allowed to resume our former green habits, because coffee chains are starting to allow reusables once more.
Coffee chains began to ban the use of reusable coffee cups in early March, in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
But Starbucks announced reusable cups would be permitted in the UK again from Friday 7 August. It follows the move from Costa Coffee, which reintroduced reusable cups back into stores on June 4. However, other chains are remaining cautious, keeping the bans in place for now.
In March, Dr Edward Wright, a senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Sussex, explained why reusable cups might be a problem for the spread of the virus.
“SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, is a respiratory virus. This means the virus replicates in cells that line the airways and given the proximity of the airway and mouth, new virus particles produced can readily contaminate the saliva,” he told HuffPost UK.
“Therefore, reusable cups that have not been cleaned and have the virus on their surfaces pose a potential route of transmission for respiratory infections if the cup comes into contact with the coffee machine.”
But Starbucks says it has trained staff to use renewables safely, with no contact between the cup and the barista.
A video on the company’s website shows how this works: customers will be asked to place their personal cup into a tray or larger mug, which will be used to transport the cup, without staff touching it.
Baristas will make your coffee and pour it into your cup, within the larger carrying vessel, before passing it back to you.
“This new procedure will be introduced across all stores and is integrated into the upweighted cleaning measures already in place,” Starbucks said. “Starbucks will continue to honour the 25p discount to customers who bring in a reusable cup.”
Costa Coffee also says the safety of customers and staff is a “priority”, confirming that customers can bring reusables into stores.
“We have temporarily updated our instructions for teams members around how to manage and handle reusable cups in light of COVID-19 - with minimal contact and enhanced hygiene procedures,” a spokesperson said. “Customers can also continue to benefit from 25p off any handcrafted drink when purchased using a reusable cup, regardless of brand.”
Greggs told HuffPost UK its stance hasn’t changed and it currently isn’t accepting reusable cups in stores.
HuffPost UK has also contacted Caffè Nero and Pret regarding their current policies and will update this article when we receive their responses.