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Coffee shops no longer filling reusable mugs

Chain stores like Dunkin' and Starbucks are temporarily suspending the use of reusable mugs because of public health concerns related to the coronavirus.

SCRANTON, Pa. — "America runs on Dunkin'" is the recognizable slogan for the chain coffeehouse and donut shop. Now, Dunkin' officials are staying committed to keeping people running, even with concerns related to the coronavirus.

William Anderson stopped by Dunkin' on Davis Street in Scranton for his daily coffee run, only to find a change from when he was here just last week. 

"I come in every day, twice a day with my refill. Now today, they say you can't get your refill, they got to put it in their cup. Which I understand, seems logical with this virus going around," he said.

Because of public health concerns related to the coronavirus, Dunkin' employees are currently not refilling your reusable mugs, even the ones sold by Dunkin' itself. There is now a sign on the front door of every location explaining the policy. 

"You never know what people are doing in their own home in their privacy," said Larry Marsico, Scranton. "Bringing in dirty cups, you can spread anything, not just coronavirus, but anything, MRSA or whatever. So I think it's a good idea," he added.

Starbucks also announced last week it is temporarily suspending the use of reusable mugs. There is a statement on Starbucks' website outlining the other safety steps the company is taking. 

"I think that's a good idea; people are very self-conscious about what's around them. The less you are in contact with people's hands, the better off you are," said Al Boginski, Scranton. 

People Newswatch 16 spoke with say they like the reusable mugs for environmental reasons, and of course, to save money. At Starbucks, employees will still honor the 10 cent discount just by showing the reusable cup, even though they won't fill it. At Dunkin, saving money is the main reason William Anderson even bought the mug.

"I save 63 cents on a cup, it paid for itself in about three weeks," he explained.

Others who have tried the reusable mugs opted out even before the spread of COVID-19.

"I just like just getting these anymore. I tried it out, and I don't know washing it, it was too much of a hassle for me. I'd rather just come get my coffee and go," Marsico said. 

Dunkin' is already in the process of replacing all foam cups with sustainable paper ones. That initiative will be complete in every store later this year. Both Dunkin' and Starbucks officials say the policy of not refilling reusable mugs is only temporary, but there's no word on how long it may be in effect.