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Dunkin' Says Bye to Foam Cups (But Bring Your Own Thermos Anyway)

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Dunkin' Says Bye to Foam Cups (But Bring Your Own Thermos Anyway)
Dunkin' Donuts will replace its foam cups with a double-walled paper cup.

Dunkin' Donuts announced Wednesday that it is phasing out its landfill-clogging polystyrene foam cups in favor of paper cups. The company's plan, which kicks off this spring in New York City and California restaurants with a targeted worldwide completion date of 2020, will prevent nearly 1 billion foam cups from entering the waste stream each year—and that's a pretty good thing!

However, as any eco-minded coffee lover already knows, if you purchase a cuppa joe, either sip it from an in-store mug or bring your own thermos.


Dunkin' said that, across its 9,000 U.S. restaurants, foam cups will eventually be replaced with double-walled paper cups made with paperboard certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard. And that's a pretty good thing, too!

But these cups are "mostly recyclable," as in their recyclability depends on whether your state or local waste management services can handle them. Let's also consider the amount of energy and number of trees required to manufacture these paper cups in the first place, or that these cups will end up discarded after a single use anyway.

The donut chain said it already goes through about two billion cups per year for its hot and cold beverages. Most of these beverages also come with plastic lids when served.

Dunkin' said its new double-walled paper cup will still feature the current re-closable polystyrene lid that customers "know and love." That lid is not recyclable, but the company is working on one that is, CNN Money reported.

"We have a responsibility to improve our packaging, making it better for the planet while still meeting the needs of our guests," said Karen Raskopf, the chief communications and sustainability officer of Dunkin' Brands.

The company seems to recognize that unsustainable packaging is a major problem and environmental stewardship is important for the brand itself and the food industry as a whole. Dunkin' touted in yesterday's press release that it has started transitioning its lids for cold beverage cups from PET to recyclable #5 polypropylene, "a change that will take 500,000 pounds of material out of the waste stream per year once completed in summer 2018."

Again, a good thing. But better yet, your own reusable mug comes with zero throwaway lids. Another bonus? You'll even get a discount on Dunkin's hot or iced coffee refills if you bring your own cup.

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A quality engineer examines new solar panels in a factory. alvarez / Getty Images

Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.

For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.

"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.

"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."

So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

The frozen meat section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, in February. Chukrut Budrul / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Imported frozen food in three Chinese cities has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but public health experts say you still shouldn't worry too much about catching the virus from food or packaging.

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Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."