MILWAUKEE - After being banished during the pandemic, some stores are now begging customers to bring their own reusable cups for coffee.
John McHugh leads public relations for Kwik Trip. Normally, the gas station chain has 4 million paper cups in reserve. Inventory is down to a quarter of that. So Kwik Trip had a little fun online – joking their cups were stolen.
The chain started asking customers to bring fish tanks or even wheelbarrows.
"What probably is happening – we don’t know for sure – is that there is a shortage of paper. Not only cups but a lot of wrappings for food products are in short supply this year," McHugh said.
Supply chain issues are also affecting places like Starbucks. But it is not just coffee with a bleak buzz.
"There was a stretch last year in which last year straws were hard to get. Plastic utensils: forks, knives and spoons. They have been in short supply," McHugh said.
McHugh said plastic salad containers are also hard to find.
After getting shelved during the pandemic, reusable cups are welcomed again. They are a green alternative – and can even get you discounts.
Just don't go a different kind of viral.
"When they do come in with one of their personal cups, keep in mind it has to be sanitary. There are other guests in the store. COVID is still around – be conscious of all that," McHugh said.
Kwik Trip is hopeful supply issues will be resolved soon.
A Starbucks spokeswoman issued the following statement on this issue:
"Select stores are experiencing a temporary shortage of hot cups, and we are working to swiftly replenish hot cups at these stores. In the meantime, some customers may receive their beverage in an unbranded cup. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working quickly and closely with our supply chain vendors to restock items as soon as possible.
"Encouraging customers to bring in a clean, reusable cup is a key part of Starbucks ongoing commitment to reduce single-use cup waste and goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030. To encourage customers to choose reusables and reduce single-use cup waste, Starbucks offers customers a $.10 discount on their beverage of choice."