Ireland’s state rail company has refused to serve hot drinks in re-usable cups because staff might suffer burns when filling them.
Irish Rail was forced to defend the policy today, citing commercial reasons as well as commercial reasons, amid a barrage of complaints.
The Irish government has unveiled a raft of policies aimed at improving the country’s green credentials, including a proposal to impose a 25 cent levy on all disposable cups.
On Monday a passenger on the Dublin to Cork intercity train tried to purchase a coffee using a reusable cup, but was refused.
The passenger then contacted a popular current affairs radio programme, which picked up the story. Fellow passengers with similar experiences flooded social media.
Jane Cregan, a spokeswoman for Irish Rail, told RTE, the national broadcaster, that only a cup of a certain size could be used safely on the trolley service’s hot water dispenser on its trains.
She added that reusable cups came in a number of different sizes, which posed a safety risk to both the passenger and the Irish Rail employee.
“With the plethora of keep cup types, and volumes, and the importance from a staff and customer safety point of view of ensuring that both pouring and sealing on a moving train must be completely safe and robust, our catering provider on Intercity cannot currently support keep cups,” she said.
Hasel Chu, a Dublin-based councillor for the Green Party, tweeted Irish Rail requesting company statistics on how many staff and passengers had been injured using reusable cups.
Ms Cregan added that the company’s only way of calculating how many hot drinks it serves is through the number of disposable cups used.
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“We recognise customer demand for a more sustainable alternative and hope to be in a position to address this as soon as possible,” she said.