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Dunkin Donut’s Is Planning To Phase Out Styrofoam Cups & Environmentalists Are Thrilled

Dunkin’ Donuts announced on Wednesday that it will finally phase out polystyrene foam cups from all of its’ stores by 2020 and replace them with double-walled paper cups, reports the Huffington Post.

After several years of teasing this as a step forward, the announcement is being hailed as a “milestone achievement.” 

The goal is to completely replace all the foam cups by 2020 with a sustainable alternative. Doing so will eliminate an estimated one billion cups from ending up in the waste stream each year, according to Dunkin’s statement. This was also their goal in 2016, but it is just now becoming reality.

Why the delay? According to an email exchange between Huffpost and the company on Thursday, Dunkin experienced some major customer satisfaction problems with an unpopular new lid design that would go with the different cups. The company tested out a polypropylene cup at one point, but customers were almost completely unified in their dislike for the lid that went along with it. It might seem like a small detail versus a much bigger problem like cutting down on waste production, but customer satisfaction is second-to-none when it comes to whether a business will sink or swim. The ultimate solution ended up being switching out the cup for the sustainable one and keeping the current lid.

The idea to get rid of the foam cups first came up in 2012 in a corporate report. The report stated that finding a more environmentally friendly cup was a goal of theirs that they hoped to achieve within two to three years. It took nearly six years of unsuccessful searching for an appropriate material to use for the cups that would fit all their qualifications of being both useful and biodegradable before they finally found one that would work.

The new cup will be made of paperboard that is certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, said the company. You’ll be able to start seeing them being used in stores as soon as this spring. They’ll feel different than the current cups, but their double-walled design will be no less effective in keeping beverages hot. In fact, they’ll be better at keeping heat in, and customers won’t even have to use beverage sleeves to keep their hands safe from hot drinks.

In a statement, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer Karen Raskopf said, “With more than 9,000 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the U.S. alone, our decision to eliminate foam cups is significant for both our brand and our industry.”

The announcement closely follows one McDonald's made last month which states the company will be making all of their packaging 100 percent green by 2025, and that they will be adding recycling bins to all of their stores by that time as well.

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Emily Gray


Emily Gray is a native Wisconsinite and is currently a junior at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities pursuing a major in Journalism, and minors in both Spanish Studies and the Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance. She writes for Her Campus as a news blogger, and when she's not writing, she enjoys finding prime reading spots on campus and delighting in spotting dogs on campus.
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