Dunkin' Donuts is going green, ghosting its iconic foam coffee cups and hastening the end of a New England tradition of “double-cupping” cold iced-coffee with an insulating second cup.
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Not surprisingly, irate coffee drinkers are taking advantage of social media to voice their displeasure.
The company had announced it was doing away with foam cups last year over environmental concerns, with the hashtag #DoubleCupBreakup trending as the Dec. 1 moratorium draws near and iced-coffee drinkers mourning the days when they could insulate their favorite drink -- served in a plastic cup -- with a foam version to keep it cold for longer periods of time, all while keeping their hands warm.
Dunkin’s most recent ad campaign is using lighthearted humor to comfort longtime “double-cuppers,” with such slogans as “The Double Cup is Breaking Up,” and “Consciously Un-cup-ling” along with its #DoubleCupBreakup viral hashtag.
Tol help “double-cuppers” through the transition, some Dunkin' locations are giving away eco-friendly, reusable insulating sleeves, known as koozies, as an alternative.
“Walking carefully with them through that journey is really important,” Scott Murphy, the chief operating officer for Dunkin’ Brands, told the Boston Globe. “The texture of that foam cup, the slope of the sides, it’s just a very familiar feeling. There’s just this intimate connection that we’re changing.”
The Boston Globe reports that the phenomena of “double-cupping” iced-coffee originated in Rhode Island, where the trend quickly spread throughout New England. Dunkin has been inundated with complaints over its disruption of the practice, Murphy said..
“They say, ‘You're changing the best part of my day.’ Which was literally soul-crushing,” Murphy told the Globe.
The move has been 10 years in the making.
Dunkin’ reports using upwards of a billion foam cups every year due to its inexpensive and light-as-air qualities, but as people grow more concerned about protecting the environment, many communities and college campuses have imposed a foam ban. New York City, one of Dunkin's biggest markets nationwide with 568 locations as of last year, imposed one in 2015, which was vetoed shortly afterward and reinstated in 2018.
“We've looked at recyclable cups, we've looked at reusable cups. We've looked at cups that are compostable,” Murphy said. “We've looked at cups that are made out of recycled water bottles. We've looked at cups that some people have claimed you could drop in the Charles River and they would disintegrate.”
Dunkin’ chose a new double-walled paper cup in February that's expected to start hitting stores this spring in markets that already have foam bans. However, Murphy said that the company discovered crew members had been stockpiling boxes of foam cups for longtime customers in anticipation.
“For every quote-unquote millennial who won’t drink out of foam and wants to make the environment a better place, there’s also my father, who’s a veteran, who thinks it’s the best cup in the world and will save that foam cup to store nails in his basement,” Murphy told the news outlet.