Dunkin' Donuts aims to ditch foam cups for paper by 2020

Key Points
  • Dunkin' Donuts is rolling out a plan to stop using plastic foam cups, beginning in New York and California in spring 2018.
  • The goal is to eliminate foam cups worldwide by 2020.
  • The foam cups have been criticized for years as having a harmful impact on the environment.
  • This initiative is part of a bigger plan for the coffee chain to go green and serve options that are better for the environment as well as consumers.
An employee fills a coffee order at a Dunkin' Donuts location in Ramsey, NJ.
Ron Antonelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Dunkin' Donuts said Tuesday it is getting rid of its controversial foam cups by 2020 and will replace them with a new double-walled paper cup.

The New England-based coffee chain will begin the process in New York and California this spring.

The polystyrene foam cups have been the target of petitions and angry fights on social media in the past. As recently as mid-January, viewers of a Facebook Live video reveal of Dunkin's next-generation concept store in its hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts, were vocal about the foam cups. The store was the first location to use the new paper cups.

One user commented, "Get rid of styrofoam cups in all your stores." Another added, "I hope they have new cups for the hot coffee. Those styrofoam cups gotta go!"

The foam material cannot be recycled and its manufacturing process is potentially dangerous. The main ingredient, styrene, has been named a possible human carcinogen.

The cup has some diehard fans in New England, though. The Boston Globe released an article in the summer of 2017 chronicling the Facebook war that broke out after a woman made a post declaring the use of styrofoam cups for iced coffee wasteful. New Englanders are notorious for insulating their iced coffee with the extra cups and released their fury in a slew of comments.

"GOOF we want our hot cups!!!!!!!! u don't want them, then don't get one," commented one angry foam cup fanatic. "crybaby!!!!!"

There have been no outcries against the new cups in Quincy. So far, the reaction looks to be positive, especially considering the amount of backlash the company has received over the years for its use of foam.

"Transitioning away from foam has been a critical goal for Dunkin' Donuts U.S., and with the double-walled cup, we will be able to offer a replacement that meets the needs and expectations of both our customers and the communities we serve," said Karen Raskopf, Dunkin's chief communications and sustainability officer.

With such a large presence around the world, the company hopes to create a global impact on its brand and the coffee industry in general.

Rival McDonald's said last month that it would stop using foam cups by the end of this year, and Starbucks uses paper cups.

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