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

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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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