This all starts last year, when I took in a cup to be refilled. It was a used 7-11 clear Slurpee cup, the same kind I have been refilling for years. I was told I could no longer refill those cups for "contamination" reasons.
Well, that got me going.
There was no sense arguing with the poor store clerk, so I went straight to corporate. I pointed out that there is no way to ensure the cleanliness of other "designated" refillable cups that other people bring in. I first received a response from the store manager that told me that I couldn't refill the clear cup because they were one time use cups and it was against health regulations. To be fair, he did offer me a complimentary re-usable cup, but that's not really my point...
Picture it: Nice day (actually could be a terrible day, I'm a junkie when it comes to Slurpees) you're out and about and you want a Slurpee but you don't have a cup with you. So you get one in a clear cup because that blue cup size just isn't big enough, and now you have this perfectly good plastic cup that you can wash and reuse. You put it in the cupboard with the other ones (and this next part is key) BECAUSE THEY ALL NEST INTO EACH OTHER NICELY AND DON'T TAKE UP MUCH ROOM and eventually you remember to take one with you the next time you go for a Slurpee. Boom. You've just reduced and reused.
You don't buy a new reusable cup every time you find yourself at 7-11 without one, that would be like buying a new reusable shopping bag every time you find yourself buying one too many things on a spontaneous trip to the supermarket. I hope/think that most people try to reduce the "one time" use products that they consume, but sometimes you still need them - it brings a little bit of balance back to the world to at least try to reuse them if possible; those supermarket bags are great for scooping the litter box for example.
So to make a long story (do I tell any other kind?) short, I emailed back and forth with 7-11 corporate, and eventually with the Manitoba Health department. Turns out, while 7-11 may consider the cups to be single use,
the Manitoba Health guideline that they were citing as the reason I couldn't refill my cup actually applies more so to things like they can't reuse plastic wrap, as far as Manitoba Health is concerned, you are welcome to refill the 7-11 clear cup.
Eventually I was told by 7-11 corporate (regarding their discussion with Manitoba Health):
'...if a customer brings in a disposable cup, we'll be happy to give them a new disposable cup and just charge them for the refill. We agreed that the reusable cups we sell are what should be used for our customers that want to bring in their own cup.Which, is absolutely absurd and completely wasteful. The whole reason I don't have a stockpile of their officially approved reusable cups (which is to say, apparently any cup except one that the ones that they originally come in) is because of how much room they take up and the fact that I don't have one tethered to me at all times. I'M TRYING TO MAKE UP FOR MY WASTEFUL WAYS BY AT LEAST REUSING MY CUPS A FEW TIMES!
They also seemed to be sticking to their guns about how it was for sanitary reasons, this, from a chain that gleefully allows people to bring in any container they would like and fill it will Slurpee, without first making sure that it's clean.
I think just to be a trouble maker tomorrow, on Bring Your Own Cup day the cup I will choose to bring will be a 7-11 issued clear cup.