South Australian convenience store and petrol station chain On The Run last week sparked outrage with its decision to ban the use of reusable coffee cups.
The ban will be effective for all OTR stations, which span over 130 locations across both metropolitan and rural South Australia.
An OTR spokesperson said the company had been a strong supporter of the reusable cup over the years.
“We care about this problem, so it was not easy to decide that our food-grade, but disposable, coffee cups were the only ones we feel sure about serving our coffee and tea in,” they said.
“We have had many incidents of customers bringing in dirty, unhygienic, contaminated cups, more recently we had an incident where a customer brought a cup in that was contaminated with a heavy metal. 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.”
Reusable coffee cups have a strong presence in the Clare Valley with a number of cafes offering discounts for those who bring in their own cup.
There are also a number of cafes scattered throughout the Valley which have registered to become a ‘Responsible Cafe’.
One of those cafes is Wild Saffron, which has been a strong advocate of the use of keep cups since owners Marion and Catie Bartholomaeus took over the business two years ago.
Marion said OTR was “probably taking it a bit too far” with its ban on the use of keep cups.
However Marion said she understood where the OTR owners were coming from in regards to the lack of hygiene that comes with dirty cups.
“We are totally supportive of the Keep Cup principle, but not dirty cups,” she said.
“On Monday, in about two and a half hour period, we pushed out nearly 200 coffees, we do not have time to wash people’s cups.
“If you come in with a dirty cup we do not know whether you have got a cold or a really bad flu. I can totally understand what On The Run is on about.”
Marion said that an alternative could be that a small fee is charged for customers who need to have their cups washed.