Coffee chain removes ban on reusable cups

A convenience chain in South Australia, which put a ban on reusable coffee cups a couple of months ago, is again allowing customers to bring in their own containers.

On the Run made the decision to temporarily stop using the reusable items in stores across the state in June due to “potential health risks.” 

But after reviewing internal food safety processes, the company announced that it has rolled out new standards to limit food safety risks in using BYO cups across its 110 stores that serve barista made coffee.

In a statement released, it explained baristas will avoid handling lids of customers’ cups directly and there will also be a new procedure to sanitise reusable coffee cups.

“We acknowledge that many of OTR’s customers care about the environment, so we are confident that this new procedure enables us to take a positive step forward to reduce landfill whilst minimising any food safety risks for customers and staff,” OTR Community Partnerships Manager, Joann Skene, said.

Convenience chain On The Run is allowing customers to bring in reusable coffee cups again. Source: Google Maps

The company said it had experienced several incidents of customers bringing in unhygienic, dirty, and contaminated cups – including one incident where a cup was even contaminated with a heavy metal.

“As the largest provider of barista-made coffee in South Australia, we had to urgently review our food safety practices in the interest of staff and customers across our OTR network,” added Ms Skene.

An OTR spokesperson said in June that customers safety must come first, despite caring about the effects disposable cups have on the environment. 

“We realised that there are other more common potential health risks in us serving coffee into cups that we can’t guarantee are clean and ready to use,” they said at the time.

Customers will be allowed to bring reusable cups, such as containers from Keepcup (pictured), into OTR stores once again. Source: Yahoo!UK

The company said it had been working behind the scenes with suppliers, community partners, environment and conservation groups including KESAB for more than a year.

And the decision to allow customers to bring their own reusable cups into stores again has been welcomed by many.

Zoos SA Chief Executive Elaine Bensted said, “It’s wonderful to hear OTR have reintroduced
the acceptance of reusable cups. We all have a role to play to actively reduce litter entering
the environment and causing harm to wildlife, especially our use of single-use plastics.”

“South Australia’s environment is the big winner in this announcement and Trees For Life is delighted to have been able to work collaboratively with OTR to achieve this outcome,” Trees for Life Acting CEO Vicki-Jo Russell AM stated.

Trees for Life Acting CEO Vicki-Jo Russell AM (left) and Zoos SA Chief Executive Elaine Bensted (right). Source: Supplied

Executive director of KESAB environmental solutions, John Phillips, told Yahoo7 he understood why OTR made the decision initially.

“There were other baristas in Adelaide that were also having similar issues with people bringing in their refillable cups in a bad presentation,” Mr Phillips said, adding some customers would expect staff at stores to clean their cups for them.

Mr Phillips said at the time the company did say they would review the health policy and work it through for a more sustainable outcome.

“Those people that changed their behaviour and have their own refillable coffee cups would be extremely happy,” he added.

KeepCup co-founder Abigail Forsyth said the news to allow customers to use the cups again was “fantastic”, saying people are awake to the waste issue now.

“It’s wonderful the OTR has regrouped to align on customer sentiment, and I guess for customers, it shows us the power we have to drive change,” Ms Forsyth added.

Ms Forsyth also said that businesses must adapt and make the necessary operational changes to their service model to support reuse.

On the Run says it is looking at other environmental measures including introducing biodegradable takeaway cup options and examining replacements to single-use plastic straws.

“The announcement this week marks the first step towards a more sustainable offer to our customers and is part of OTR‘s broader Corporate Social Responsibility commitment, which is a key focus of our business,” Ms Skene said.