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Dunkin’ Donuts Finally Replaced Its Foam Cups for More Sustainable Paper Ones

Sustainability News
by Matthew Meltzer May 11, 2020

Dunkin’ Donuts, welcome to the 21st century.

While seemingly every other quick-service national food chain did away with polystyrene foam — or Styrofoam, the brand name most people call it — Dunkin’ held fast to its white-foam roots. The stuff kept coffee hot and our hands cool, and by gosh it somehow made that cup of coffee, cream, and all the sugars they put in your Xtra Large coffee taste… like Dunkin’.

But this week Dunkin’ finally announced it will be 100 percent free from polystyrene foam cups as soon as current supplies run out. The foam cup kings have switched to a double-walled paper cup made from paperboard that’s certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard. Dunkin’ says it will have the same temperature-regulating properties as the old foam cups.

The move is expected to remove a billion polystyrene cups from landfills annually. Considering it took the average Dunkin’ cup 50 years to biodegrade, that’s a pretty huge number.

“Sustainability remains a key priority for Dunkin’’,” Scott Murphy, Dunkin’s America’s president, said in a press release. “We will build on our momentum and do our part to take care of the world around us because it matters to us, our franchisees, our guests, and our communities.”

In addition to eliminating foam cups, Dunkin’ is moving to fully recyclable coffee cup lids as well, replacing the old polystyrene ones with #5 polypropylene. These lids can be recycled in any city that offers #5 recycling. Combined with the new cups, Dunkin’ is expecting to remove 19 million pounds of polystyrene waste from landfills every year.

You may still get a foam cup next time you run in for coffee since many franchisees still have existing boxes of the old cups they’re not in a position to throw away. But Dunkin’ distribution centers will no longer be sending them out, so if for some reason you enjoy the flavor of coffee in a cup that’ll still be here in 2070, you should probably act now.

Hopefully, the move signifies more restaurants are moving away from environmentally harmful packaging, especially as consumption of takeout and delivery foods has become the norm over the past couple of months. Dunkin’ is finally doing its part to help reduce waste in landfills, and America can run on it feeling a little less guilty.

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