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Major coffee chains commit to resiliency

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Written by: Oscar Vargas

Cups to recycle

In one year, hot beverage purchases at one coffee chain left 3.85 billion paper cups in the global waste stream.[1] That company, along with other large coffee shop and restaurant chains, has set Solid Waste Management (SWM) goals and is implementing improvements.

SWM of coffee cups, lids, stir sticks, and more is an industry-wide problem. Here is how three corporations are implementing ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle:

Dunkin’ Brands

11,300 locations
  • Dunkin’ Doughnut shops are reported to be on track for ending use of polystyrene cups by 2020. Over 70% of U.S. shops will have converted to a double-walled paper cup this year. Their goal is to remove 1 billion foam cups from the waste stream. That’s 19 million pounds removed each year.

  • The hot beverage lids for all of that coffee will be made of fully-recyclable #5 polypropylene.[2]


Tim Hortons Inc

4,846 locations
  • In 1978, Tim Hortons initiated its first reusable cup programs. That cup was recently updated and made available for $1.99 CAD. Guests receive a discount for coffee served in that cup. For single-use cups, new materials are currently being tested.

  • After 12 research studies, cup lids have been redesigned and are now 100% recyclable polypropylene.

  • Wooden stir sticks to replace plastic are being tested this year.[3]


Starbucks Corporation

30,000+ locations
  • Among the company’s goals for 2022, Starbucks seeks to double recycled content in its cups while making them recyclable or compostable. A paper sleeve for hot cups was introduced in 1997. That brought an end to wasteful double-cupping. As of 2006, cup materials included 10% recycled fiber.

  • A lid introduced in 2016 is more recyclable.

  • Starbucks customers can be served coffee at a discount in their own cups or tumblers. Reusable tumblers earn a 10-cent discount.[4]

News and Notes items accompany the longer articles found in ecoPreserve’s newsletter, Sharing Sustainability. Several issues of the newsletter can be previewed here.

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