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April 20, 2011


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Our store has tried to do recycling but the area we live in makes it hard. The only place that will take our recyclables will charge us over 75 dollars a visit and they require all the jugs are cleaned out and completely flattened.


This from the company that won't refill a drip coffee in the same cup, but will fill one you bring from home?


AB---that's a health code violation, not just a Starbucks policy. The same "refill a cup" policy is present in most restaurants (depending on the area in which you live) where they either have to give you a brand new glass or bring a pitcher over to fill your current glass. It's considered cross-contamination otherwise.


How is it cross contamination to refill a paper cup but not so if it's a reusable cup? I'd understand the policy if they didn't take cups from god knows where and fill them up. Do the higher ups assume that people are bringing in perfectly sterilized plastic cups?


Petie, I question that policy every day when Jane guest brings in her filthy, unclean cup for us to rinse and fill it. I wonder how that is more sanitary than refilling a paper cup...strange health code rules if you ask me.


Please reread Petie's reply....this is driven by jurisdictional health departments, not SB.

Or are you just hell bent on finding a nugget to slam them with? Very common here.....


AB: It's all in how the health code defines the cup. A paper (or plastic, for iced) cup is considered disposable, and the code specifically singles out disposable cups.


Yep. In my area, it's "single use" cups vs reusable cups. The paper cups are considered single use, and for some reason the iced are not, but we have to have the customer take the lid off.


I'm often disgusted by some of the reusable cups customers happily hand over for me to fill. I never let reusable cups touch anything other than the counter on which I have to let them stand, and I always wash my hands after touching one.

I also find the double standard of that health code odd, but it's worth it, I guess, if it helps out the environment. But seriously, people, wash your cups before you bring them in.

And, all things considered, I think Starbucks does a pretty good job on recycling, or, at least, my district does. We all separate out plastics, glass, cardboard, and paper from our trash. We conserve our grounds from the espresso machines and give them to customers for their gardens. And we even collect our bottle tops and donate them to the school across the street. I think most stores do all of these, and some probably even do more.

Mrs. Tillinghamshackles

My district saved the whipped cream chargers for recycling.


One of the only policies I don't follow is putting refills in new cups. What a waste! If ECOSURE is in my store, I'll throw away the 'old' cup... if not, I think green. New cups only enable the multiple-visit refillers anyway and make it harder to enforce the refill policy,

Legendarily Lean

Bayareabux, oh, so you are "the store down the street'' that ''always does it'' for them...


i don't like the refill standards, but they are the bastard child of good intention and departmental intervention.. you can't really expect results with that combo. i don't like to refill cups/personal mugs. they usually look like something that the customer found in their trunk and thought it would be safe enough to drink from for a 10cent discount.

i think a lot of this outcry for a greener sbux come from people who live in area's where recycling is easy. however, not all starbucks are located in southern cali. We can't even get the newspaper to come to our starbucks, how in the heck do you expect us to find a place to recycle?? we simply don't have the resources. look on the bright side. at least half of our cups are paper, and not all plastic like many of our fast-food cousins. AND there's no way we waste as much paper as the companies trying to mail me a credit card I guarantee i won't qualify for anyway. we recycle our charges, we did attempt at collecting and transporting our own plastics, it just wasn't realistic considering the cost to recycle and the daily trips to a facility. I think we do just fine, and (to the best of my knowledge) we never served our sandwiches in styrofoam cartons.

Coffee Soldier

The refilling of cups is really something Sbux needs to revisit...nearly daily customers gasp as me when I give them a new cup for their refill then say most other stores don't do that...I'm sorry I just follow the policies set forth by the company I work for. The policy seemed to come out around the time the Swine Flu was taking the media by storm and I could understand us not wanting to take the cup back and handle it but it's no different then a travel mug. On my health inspections refilling a disposable cup is not a question...I was under the impression this policy was company wide not just area specific. Oh well...it's not like everyone follows every policy anyways...and if a customer really wants their nasty cup refilled I just say yes and give it to them!

Time To GO!

Just Say Yes? That's a riot. If I found something disgusting, I would never touch it or refill it. They would just hear me say NO. Policies aside, it's just gross and some policies don't make sense...thereby don't follow them.


Starbucks started the "use a new cup for a refill policy" last year to help prevent partners from getting swine flu when it was rampant. The policy was to protect you; not irritate you.


I will refill the same paper cup if they want, though I have seen some so old and stained that I wonder why anyone would drink from them. I get it, they want a 55 cent refill, but I really hope they don't think I am dumb enough to believe they just got that coffee a few hours prior. To each their own. What I really can't stand is someone asking me to wash a tumbler for them because they were too lazy to do so at home.


Jmo--you're supposed to wash out that tumbler regardless, per health code, before filling it. There can be nothing inside the tumbler when they give it to you--no cream, sugar, or who knows what else they might have added to it. It goes down the drain. A partner was almost fired for filling a customer's cup that contained alcohol mixed in with the cream that the customer dispensed before entering the store. Starbucks could have got in trouble for serving alcohol without a license, and for allowing a minor to serve alcohol even though no one in Starbucks filled the cup with the alcohol, they did serve it under the law.


How are you all not getting this? The policies aren't sbux whims, theyre health code regulations that you HAVE to follow. Health dept passes a law, tells starbucks that it's changed, starbucks tells you so that you don't have to keep your local health department website as your home page. Go ahead and ignore them, I look forward to saying "told you so" when you lose your job for failing a health inspection because you knowingly ignored a policy. Don't like it? Do what I did and educate yourself, then email your congressman.


Well damn, how unsanitary of me. Or my boss who never does, and never passed the word on. Anyone else ever have someone request that you fill their tumbler with hot water after washing to warm it up?


@JMO - I would say that every single "premium" coffee house the baristas will automatically let a personal cup sit with hot water in it to pre-warm it. And in premium coffee houses, the for-here ware often sits atop the manual espresso machine for the same reason. Here in Seattle, most partners will automatically pre-warm the cup with hot water. It appears to be the standard. I would be surprised not to see that happen.


I'm in Florida and it has always been extremely difficult for any Starbucks in my area to recycle, and I've since transferred between two districts. Over half the partners at my current store don't set aside grounds for your garden even though they're taken and used within an hour of putting them out. We waste so much at my store.
A partner who worked at at my store prior to my transfer used to recycle our spent product on his own. He bought his own recycling container and would bring it to the nearest facility. Of course, when he announced that he was leaving, no one wanted to continue the effort to recycle. Great.


Do we really believe that Starbucks doesn't offer recycling bins because of what local municipalities offer? I own an independent coffee shop 7 doors away from a Starbucks. We all use the same trash hauler b/c of a city contact that forces us to use the same trash hauler. We have a recycling bin for customers. Starbucks does not. Starbucks was years behind offering free wi-fi to everyone (without having to have 'the card') and now they are years behind offering a recycling bin. Funny that their 'shortfallings' are spun into a positive PR move. Gotta give them credit for that I guess.


If you have a customer that continually brings in a dirty tumbler, you are within your right to request that they wash it or else you can't serve them in it. If they raise a fit, still give them the discount, but give them their drink in a disposable cup.

We have one customer that we had to do this with, and after the one conversation, he has (usually) remembered to clean his mug. It just depends on how you interact with the customer.


Great place to get java interview questions.

zoe somebody

I ended up at this site because of the "new cup refill policy".

I've heard repeatedly that this is a health code issue. However, when pressed I had a shift lead admit that they were told to say that but their manager insisted. And as I sit at a Starbucks marveling after they refilled my iced coffee in the same cup and assured that there is no such policy...period...from Starbucks corporate or health code or from god.

Can someone who believes this is a health code please provide me a citation (link to official local health code in your area OR official Starbucks policy referencing the health code)?

I don't get it and can't take it. Someone please make this thing that makes no sense, er, well, make sense.


"Starbucks started the "use a new cup for a refill policy" last year to help prevent partners from getting swine flu when it was rampant. The policy was to protect you; not irritate you."

The funny thing about the concept above is that money is so much dirtier than whatever hand cooties might be lurking on the outside of the cup. I am, however, in favor of people not contracting the swine flu. :)

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