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Dunkin’ improves packaging from foam to paper cups, reducing waste, pollution — but it’s still better to bring your own mug

Early last February, global donut company and coffeehouse Dunkin’ Donuts declared that it will be replacing its polystyrene foam cups with paper cups.

The company will start phasing out foam cups in New York City and California restaurants this spring. By 2020, Dunkin’ Donuts aims to reach their target worldwide. The move will eliminate a whopping one billion foams cups from the waste stream annually.

While this can certainly help minimize waste, it’s still better to drink a cup of coffee from an in-store mug or from your own thermos. According to the company, in time all of its 9,000 restaurants all over the country will be serving drinks in “double-walled paper cups made with paperboard certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard” instead of foam cups. (Related: 10 reasons recycling will save humanity.)

However, while the paper cups are “mostly recyclable,” their recyclability is still up to whether the state or local waste management services can dispose of them properly. It’s also worth considering the effort and number of trees that will be used to make the paper cups, along with the fact that they are always thrown away after being used once.

Dunkin’ Donuts revealed that it uses at least two billion cups each year for both hot and cold beverages, which are often served with plastic lids. The company adds that the new double-walled paper cup will still come with the current re-closable polystyrene lid that customers “know and love.”

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

The good thing is, the company is aware that unsustainable packaging is a major concern and that environmental stewardship is crucial for the brand itself along with the food industry. In the company’s press release, it was also revealed that they have begun replacing the PET lids for cold beverage cups with recyclable #5 polypropylene. This is “a change that will take 500,000 pounds of material out of the waste stream per year once completed in summer 2018.”

This is good news for the environment, but keep in mind that bringing a reusable mug means you won’t be using a paper cup with a plastic lid that you’ll throw away. Using your own cup also nets you a discount on hot or iced coffee refills from Dunkin’ Donuts.

Tips to reduce paper waste

Aside from bringing your own mug on your daily trip to a coffeehouse, check out these tips to reduce paper waste:

  • Don’t ask for receipts — Refrain from asking for receipts when shopping or dining out, especially if you don’t need it. Keep track of your finances online instead.
  • Reuse paper — If you have to print contracts, documents, or receipts, always use both sides of a sheet of paper. Use the double-sided printing feature of your printer. You can also alter the documents so that the font size is smaller to minimize the ink that it will use up when printing.
  • Sign up for paperless billing — Let your bank or credit card company know that you prefer paperless billing to reduce waste. Switching to electronic communication will also make it easier to manage your finances.
  • Switch to digital copies of documents — Save everything on your computer or smartphone instead of printing everything, such as driving directions or an office memo.

Read more articles on how to recycle and reduce waste at

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