Next time customers step into their local Dunkin' for a hot latte, they might notice something a bit different about the chain's coffee cups.
For decades, the chain's hot drinks were housed in insulated styrofoam cups, but this winter, Dunkin's drinks will soon have more sustainable packaging.
In 2018, the iconic chain announced its plans to eliminate all polystyrene foam cups from stores worldwide by April 2020. The Massachusetts-based company says it's now well on its way to completing that goal.
Many Dunkin' locations have already rolled out a new double-walled paper cup for hot beverages, and all New England stores will be adopting the new look by Dec. 1. Most Dunkin' locations overseas are already using paper cups, and will complete the transition to paper by mid-2020.
While it's not the styrofoam cup many loyal customers have become accustomed to over the years, the new paper version offers the same heat retention properties, according to the chain. It's made from paperboard certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, and will come with the same re-closable, plastic lid the brand already offers.
Dunkin's new paper cup is still lined with plastic, so it's not actually recyclable, but the lid is made of polypropylene and can be recycled in towns that offer #5 recycling.
Typical styrofoam cups take hundreds of years to break down, but before that, some make their way into oceans, where they cause harm to animals. Dunkin' estimates that this change in packaging will remove around 1 billion foam cups from the waste stream annually.
Still, a lot of people have wondered why the chain didn't make the switch sooner.
“Finding a replacement for our foam cup has been our No. 1 sustainability issue for many years, but finding the right cup has been a challenge from a supply, cost and guest experience perspective," Scott Murphy, COO of Dunkin’, told TODAY Food via email. "Our priority has been finding a more sustainable cup that offers the best drinking experience for our guests, and we believe we have done that with the double-walled paper cup, which uses the lid also used on our current cups."
Many Dunkin' devotees have even been using a second styrofoam "hot cup" to add an extra bit of insulation to their warm beverages and iced drinks for years, a practice many call "double cupping."
To coincide with the release of its new cups, the Dunkin' brand has launched a "Consciously Un-Cup-Ling" campaign with the hashtag #DoubleCupBreakup. The goal? To discourage this wasteful practice.
Many Twitter users were thrilled to hear about the campaign.
Some admitted that they've been guilty of double cupping from time to time.
As Dunkin' gets closer to realizing its goal of foam-free packaging, Murphy realizes that customers might have some mixed reactions, but he says the brand's new paper cups are a step in the right direction.
“We have customers who like the foam cup and we have customers who have asked us to eliminate the cup," he said. "Our goal was to satisfy all our customers with a cup that is more environmentally friendly, has the insulation properties close to foam and has the lid that our customers know and love."