Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Brands Group (NASDAQ: DNKN) has announced plans to replace Dunkin’ Donuts’ controversial foam cups with a new double-walled paper cup by 2020. The company said the new paper cups will retain heat as well as the foam cups they’re replacing. Karen Raskopf, Dunkin’s chief communications and sustainability officer, said in a statement, “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.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ polystyrene foam cups have sparked petitions against the company. The main ingredient in the cups, styrene, has been named a possible human carcinogen. The foam material cannot be recycled and its manufacturing process is potentially dangerous. There has been a push to ban their use.
The move has been brewing for nearly a decade. Dunkin’s next-generation concept store in its hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts was the first location to use the new paper cups. So far, there have been no outcries against the new cups in Quincy. The process will move to New York and California this spring. The company has roughly 9,000 stores across the U.S.
The move was applauded by environmental groups. According to Dunkin’, the transition would remove about a billion foam cups from the world’s landfills every year. Most of Dunkin’s international restaurants already use paper cups. In the international markets where the foam cups still used, the company will work with franchisees to phase them out.
This is not the first eco-friendly move made by the company in recent months. The company is now only using coffee beans certified by the Rainforest Alliance, cage-free eggs and crate-free pork. The company is also trying to help franchisees build sustainable, energy-efficient buildings.
Other companies in the fast food industry are making similar moves. Last month, McDonald’s announced that it would stop using foam cups by the end of this year and would use only recycled or other environmentally-friendly materials for its Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025. Starbucks already uses paper cups for its hot beverages.