America runs on Dunkin….but can the environment?


When I wake up every morning, the first thing I do is make coffee. This one simple habit has been a part of my routine since my freshman year of high school. Because of my dedication to this lifestyle, I became very close to Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin Donuts is a widely popular coffee chain that we all know and love (everyone has made that Sunday morning drive-thru run at one point at Bucknell).  Compared to the more expensive Starbucks, Dunkin has 99 cent coffees and similarly cheap bagels and, yes, donuts. They serve delicious drinks that are affordable for any person: so what could possibly be wrong with them?

Dunkin is famous for its piping hot drinks, so clearly they have to have efficient travel cups to protect the customer from the scalding liquid. The downside, however, is that the cups are 100% non-recyclable. Thousands of these styrofoam cups are served all over the country every day, which means thousands of these cups are being thrown into a landfill where they will sit for years as they slowly break down and leak chemicals into the earth. While Dunkin is aware of this problem, they are not proactive about fixing it. Furthermore, after visiting the Dunkin Donuts website, I learned their responsibility section was severely lacking. They had one brief page outlining a LEED certified Dunkin Donuts location in Florida. For such an economically reasonable company, they are sorely lacking in their environmental responsibility. Compared to Starbucks, a company prided for its environmental responsibility, Dunkin is hard to actively purchase coffee from. To me, as a consumer, I would rather spend the extra money knowing I can recycle the cup it came in, as opposed to the cheaper, longer  lasting Dunkin.

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6 responses to “America runs on Dunkin….but can the environment?

  1. This is an interesting predicament, but one that seems to be solved easily. Luckily for you, the coffee industry is highly competitive and therefore presents a multitude of products for consumers to choose from. However, what happens when the product you love is irreplaceable? Perhaps this links back to the issue of Apple. We all love Apple products, but we know that the company is far from perfect in an ethical sense. We buy its products anyway, and never really challenge its irresponsible actions.

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  2. As a fellow Dunkin lover and MSUS (yay, environment!) major, I can emphasize with your predicament. I would absolutely be willing to pay the extra money required for more sustainable materials, but I believe we represent the minority. Many Dunkin lovers are in it for not only the taste, but the price as well and would not compromise their cheap coffee for different packaging. So, how do people like us encourage Dunkin to change their wasteful ways? I myself refuse to buy hot drinks to avoid styrofoam, but that doesn’t have the biggest impact. Any other ideas on how we can change?

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  3. I agree with Kerry’s comment that you guys are in the minority on this issue. I do not drink coffee, but I always see people walking around with their dunkin donuts cups and it doesn’t seem like they care. I find this issue to be interesting because I feel like dunkin can create a cup that is recyclable. I do not know how much extra money it would cost to start making new cups, but I feel like it is something dunkin can easily do. I did not even know that dunkin’s cups were not able to be recycled and I feel like not many people do. I think that if more people were aware of the issue they could start trying to force dunkin into changing their cup.

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  4. I agree with everything you guys have said. We absolutely represent a minority that are able and willing to pay that extra dollar or so for the more sustainable cup. The ever-present issue, however, is that we, as consumers, are constantly forced to choose between economics and the environment. Dunkin is aware that their styrofoam cups are non-recyclable, but simultaneously much cheaper to order in bulk and serve to it’s customers. To answer Kerry’s question, I have no answer. How do you prioritize the environment when the economical benefits of forgetting about it are so large? Simply put, I agree with Joe. Education is key. If it is better publicized that Dunkin’s styrofoam cups are not decomposable, there will ideally be more of a hesitation within each consumer to buy it, thus pressuring Dunkin to rethink their cup choice.

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  5. Pingback: Blog Council: Our Favorite Companies | Stakeholders:Uncensored·

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