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The Era Of Double-Cuppin' At Dunkin' Is Ending02:42
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At the Dunkin' on North Beacon Street in Brighton, Nehemiah Campos, right, and another employee take orders. (Meghan B. Kelly/WBUR)
At the Dunkin' on North Beacon Street in Brighton, Nehemiah Campos, right, and another employee take orders. (Meghan B. Kelly/WBUR)

Don't call it a breakup. Call it a "conscious un-cup-ling."

With tongue firmly in cheek, Dunkin' unveiled last week a playful campaign to let New Englanders know that double-cupping — when an iced coffee is served in a plastic cup that sits inside a polystyrene cup — will be a thing of the past.

"As part of our commitment to serve both the planet and people responsibly, we announced plans to eliminate all polystyrene foam cups in our global supply chain with a targeted completion date of 2020," the company said in a press release. "As of December 1, all Dunkin’ restaurants in New England will be fully transitioned to the double-walled paper cup."

The paper cups will be coated with a polyethylene coating, like a lot of single-use paper cups — including the kind you get at Starbucks. It may not be recyclable everywhere, said a company spokesperson. New lids to accompany the cup can be recycled anywhere that accepts No. 5 recycling.

A pin that employees at the North Beacon Street location will soon wear to explain the new cup policy. (Meghan B. Kelly/WBUR)
A pin that employees at the North Beacon Street location will soon wear to explain the new cup policy. (Meghan B. Kelly/WBUR)

The new cups were introduced in New York and California last year, but haven't made their way to many locations in New England — like the store on North Beacon Street in Brighton.

Currently, this store's practice is to double-cup only if requested.

"It's become a culture from the customer," said store manager Nehemiah Campos on Monday morning. "People started to ask for the cup under, to avoid the sweating from the cup and make a mess on the table."

An example of the double-cupping method for iced coffee. By early 2020, Dunkin' says it will ditch the foam cups. (Meghan B. Kelly/WBUR)
An example of the double-cupping method for iced coffee. By early 2020, Dunkin' says it will ditch the foam cups. (Meghan B. Kelly/WBUR)

Campos has started training his staff on the new cups, and when they arrive, which Campos expects to be soon, employees will don pins that explain the change to customers.

Some customers have already been asking when the switch will happen.

Ivo Ferreira, of Allston, said he welcomes the change.

"It's great, I love it," he said.

Ferreira, a regular at this location, described his usual order: a medium hot coffee, 10 milks and one sugar, and a ham, egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel.

He said he wasn't bothered that his hot coffee will soon be served in a paper cup.

Laura Dennison, another regular customer, said she's wary of the change. She usually orders a large hot tea or coffee.

"I'm not opposed to helping the environment, but I depend on the double-cup because I'm a wheelchair user. And so sometimes I cannot always fit a hot beverage in my cup holder," she said.

Dennison, who's from Jamaica Plain and teaches nearby, said that a single foam cup tends to be too hot for her to hold between her legs, her usual mode of transporting the coffee.

She likened the change to the backlash against plastic straws, which make drinking easier for people with certain disabilities.

"It does have an impact for people with disabilities that people may not think about unless you live it," she said.

India Crawford displays her most recent order of one hot coffee and an iced coffee. (Meghan B. Kelly/WBUR)
India Crawford displays her most recent order of one hot coffee and an iced coffee. (Meghan B. Kelly/WBUR)

"If they're trying to do more to make the environment better, I'm all for it. I'm all for it. I don't have a problem with it," said India Crawford, whose usual order is a medium iced coffee with three caramel swirls, two coconut shots, cream and no sugar.

She's double-cupped in the past, but on Monday she clutched just a single plastic cup.

"I hold onto it real tight," she said, laughing, adding that other customers might also find the polystyrene foam cups are just easier to grip.

Crawford used to work at Dunkin' and said customers would frequently ask for the double-cup method.

"When it's all over, it's like a waste cup and then it goes into the garbage, which is just more of a waste," she said.

In its sustainability report, the company says the transition to the paper cups, along with the switch to a more recyclable lid, will remove 19 million pounds of polystyrene from the waste stream annually.

This segment aired on November 19, 2019.

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