Next up to eliminate expanded polystyrene (EPS) drink cups from its chain of fast-food restaurants is Dunkin’ Donuts. The company will eliminate all EPS foam cups in its global supply chain beginning this spring with a targeted completion date of 2020. In U.S. restaurants, Dunkin’ Donuts will replace the foam cup with a new, double-walled paper cup. The majority of its restaurants in international markets are currently using paper cups, and the brand will work with its franchisees to eliminate foam cups from remaining international markets by the 2020 goal, said the company’s information.
Behind the effort to eliminate EPS foam cups was—you guessed it—As You Sow, an advocacy group that goes after plastics with a vengeance. It started a campaign several years ago to get Dunkin’ Donuts to replace EPS foam cups with another material, “as part of a larger dialogue on recycling beverage cups at its restaurant locations,” said a release from As You Sow. As You Sow also noted, however, that it was surprised that Dunkin’ chose paper, as the company previously indicated that it “was leaning toward a polypropylene plastic cup as ‘currently the best available alternative to foam’ and [was] already using polypropylene in areas that had banned foam.”For recycling purposes, the PP cups would have been a good choice. Even with double-walled paper, hot coffee might make the cup too hot to handle. Many restaurant chains that have switched to paper cups also must use a paperboard sleeve to protect customers’ hands from the heat. I’m thinking of the extra energy and the tremendous amount of water it takes to make paper cups and the paperboard sleeves, and I wonder just how much research Dunkin’ did before making this decision.
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