With Dunkin’ Donuts phasing out foam, here’s what you should know about paper cups

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dunkin’ Donuts plans to have their foam cups out of circulation by 2020. The company announced Feb. 7 that it will replace the foam cup with a new, double-walled paper cup.

Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation’s Krystal Noiseaux was able to confirm with Dunkin’ Donuts that these double walled cups will be made from a type of paper called poly-coated cardboard.

“It’s not something that we can sort or sell to recyclers just yet, our paper mills still don’t want it,” Noiseaux said.

Noiseaux said majority of the paper cups used by coffee shops have a lining and should not go into the recycle bin.  This includes paper cups from many different businesses, not just Dunkin’ Donuts.

According to Noiseaux, it’s not the end of the world if customers do happen to toss their paper cups into the recycle bin.

“We do our best when it gets here to pick it out of the system, it’s not something that shuts down the facility or puts our workers at risk for injury and again we understand why people do it, but it really does belong in the trash,” Noiseaux said.

As for phasing out foam cups, Noiseaux said foam actually takes less energy to produce, but there’s no doubt foam is bad for the landfill because it doesn’t disintegrate.

“Versus a paper cup might be a little more energy intensive to make, but if it does wind up in the environment, then the paper will break down and biodegrade so you can make arguments either way,” Noiseaux said.

Dunkin’ Donuts said in a news release that the move towards paper cups “complements its earlier commitments in the United States to have 80 percent fiber-based consumer-facing packaging certified to the sustainable forestry initiative standard by the end of the year.”

Noiseaux said part of that commitment can be sourcing recycled paper to manufacture the cups.

“That’s a good thing because that creates demand for recycled paper products,” Noiseaux said.

Noiseaux said the best way for customers to be environmentally friendly is to drink from a reusable mug.