Last fall, Dunkin’ Donuts began testing two alternate cups to replace its foam hot cups in select markets, including locations in towns with polystyrene bans, like Brookline and Somerville.
The effort — while admirable because polystyrene is bad — is leaving consumers who sleeve their iced coffee cups inside a foam cup in a pickle. Now several months into their experiment, Dunkin’ Brands says it’s closing in on a favorite foam alternative, and will reveal its future plans for transition by the end of the year.
Both a double-walled paper cup and a #5 recyclable polypropylene cup are available in select markets, with the latter proving to be superior thus far. According to a statement from Christine Riley Miller, senior director of corporate social responsibility and the Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation:
“We will continue to evaluate and test all available cups until we believe we have found the best solution based on cost, performance, commercial viability and environmental impacts. We expect to be in a position to make a decision regarding an alternative cup and a timeline for the transition to a new cup by the end of 2015.”
The plan to completely phase out the foam hot cups from all Dunkin’ Donuts locations nationwide will be laid out by the company by the end the year, though a timeline for formal implementation has yet to be revealed.
Double cupping, in case you’re not familiar, is a practice particularly customary to New England that goes as follows:
1. Purchase an iced coffee (or tea, if you must) from a Dunkin’ Donuts location.
2. Shamelessly request a foam cup in the equivalent or greater size.
3. Insert iced coffee (or tea, but why?) into foam cup.
4. Bask in the superiority of having a condensation-free beverage to hold.
Despite being wasteful (and tactically useless to the consumption of iced coffee), the double cup technique is practiced quite liberally, and it can be often seen on college campuses and sporting events across New England. The option to oblige the customer’s request for a second cup is at each franchise’s discretion, though some are known to ask for a small fee in exchange for the service. Other coffee chains have not yet reached the widely accepted practice of the Dunkin’ double cup, though they are still able to serve iced coffee with no reported fatal injuries due to lack of a protective outer layer.