Say Goodbye to Dunkins Iconic Foam Cups

It’s for the environment, but also because more states are banning foam

In the war between coffee giants Starbucks and Dunkin’, the paper v. foam cups was an obvious aesthetic marker of which side you were on. In one corner was a sleek, smooth experience, while in the other was cheapness, efficiency, and a hearty faack off to anyone who’d try to bring the word “aesthetic” into a conversation about coffee. So who knows what’ll happen to the discourse now that Dunkin’ is phasing out their iconic foam cups.

Dunkin’ announced in February 2018 that would phase out foam cups by 2020, and this morning said that double-walled paper cups would replace all foam in New England by December 1, with the new cups arriving elsewhere soon. They’re also rolling out a campaign to help New Englanders, who have long used the foam cups as insulation against their year-round iced coffees, cope.

Right now, a number of cities and a few states have already partially or completely banned foam coffee cups, so it’s a business decision as much as an environmental one. But the question of whether paper cups are better for the environment is up for debate. Paper cups are typically lined with plastic, so as not to absorb the hot liquids they’re encasing, making them as likely to wind up in the landfill as foam. Also, some research says paper cups are more environmentally taxing to make, and that foam may, in some circumstances, be better for overall energy than washing a ceramic cup with hot water every day.

Dunkin’ says the new cups are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, but that, as always, it’s up to local jurisdictions to determine what gets recycled and what doesn’t. It’s a reminder that much of the conversation around saving the planet still revolves around what makes us feel like we’re helping. A company changing its practices nationwide does feel closer to the large-scale, institutional change needed to make a dent in climate change, rather than the focus on individual consumer choices corporations like to push. But it’s hard to tell whether the switch will be a net benefit at a time when we need all the environmental help we can get.

And in other news…

  • In September, Lizzo accused a Postmates deliverer of stealing her food, and apologized when the worker faced death threats from her fans. Now, the deliverer is suing Lizzo for libel and emotional distress. [Pitchfork]
  • There may not be ethical consumption under capitalism, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to signal their values with what they consume. Most recently, it’s with natural wine. [The New Yorker]
  • K-pop singer Amber Liu apologized for comments she made about Steven Foster, who was arrested at a BART station for eating a sandwich he bought at a restaurant inside the station. “I think he deserved it…he was being super disrespectful,” she said originally. “I saw a video clip, made an ignorant, snap judgment, and I majorly messed up,” she wrote on Twitter. [AllKPop]
  • India banned exports of onions in September after monsoons killed much of the crop, and now Bangladesh is importing onions after facing a massive shortage of the staple ingredient. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also announced she would not be using onions in her dishes. [DTNext]
  • A study suggests that Starbucks’ open bathroom policy lowered foot traffic. [Yahoo]
  • Nestlé is trying really hard to be sustainable, even after stealing water and possibly breaking its pledge to not make chocolate using child labor. [NY Times]
  • The Jonas Brothers insist Coors Light is their favorite beer. [PR Newswire]
  • Everyone is laughing at the Republican senator who insisted liberals are drink “goat milk lattés,” but watch that be the next alternative milk trend. [WaPo]
  • All AM Intel Coverage [E]

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