Waste Management

That Cup Adds Up


PROVIDENCE — They are in the gutters, on porch stoops, in bushes, partially full, empty and flattened. When you start to look for them, you see single-use paper cups are everywhere. Over the course of four hours, ecoRI News surveyed a 2.5-mile radius around our offices on the East Side and found the following:







Join the Discussion

View Comments

Recent Comments

  1. The real killer is the Dunkin Donuts "hot" cups…the plastic "iced" cups are at least recyclable, and the paper cups could be composted in the right setup…but there's NO good solution to the Styrofoam cups (short of maybe incineration).

    I hope you guys picked all those cups up!

  2. Thanks for your comment Mike. Actually, the clear plastic iced-coffee cups are not recyclable in Rhode Island. They will be in June when single-stream recycling comes online. Currently, Rhode Island only recycles 1 and 2 plastic containers that have a "neck." And of the hot-beverage paper cups have a plastic coating that makes them not compostable. Best solution: reusable mug.

  3. Wow, I didn't realize that the iced coffee cups weren't recyclable…they have a "1" on them, so I never thought they wouldn't be. "Only 1's and 2's with a neck"? I'd never heard that.

    In June, will the straws in the iced coffee cup be recyclable?

  4. OMG ! I was on the fence about buying one of those re-fillable Dunkin Cups – but you convinced me !!
    This is gross !!!!!! and I'm ashamed to be a part of it ! Though mine ALWAYS go in the trash – not on the ground – they still end up in the landfill 🙁

  5. Yes, everyone should use ceramic of metal reusable mugs. And, of course, should support local businesses and stop putting their money into mega-corporations like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. Seven Stars, White Electric, Blue State, Coffee Exhange, Fertile Underground, Brewed Awakenings, Coffee Depot and on and on – there is much better coffee to be had that supports local families, all opver this city and state.

  6. While I agree that the BEST solution is re-usable cups, one of the greatest problems with the environmental movement is that they sometimes ask people to fundamentally change their actions…that can be a tough sell. While those of us who are die-hard may use re-usable cups (heck, I brew my own coffee and then compost the spent grinds and filters), we can't expect that to ever become the norm.

    What needs to happen is that we need to make SMALL changes that work on a large scale. Making ice coffee cups recyclable is huge. Getting major coffee sellers to use compostable cups (and collect them) would also be huge. Stuff like that requires very minor changes in behavior from consumers, but makes a huge difference.

    Of course, there are hard-to-solve problems, such as what do do about those darn "hot" Dunkin Donuts Styrofoam cups and how to keep people from just throwing their garbage on the side of the road (seriously, who the hell does that?!)

    Let's go for the large-scale but simple solutions for the vast majority of people, and us die-hards can still go above and beyond. Asking everyone to do what we do will turn them off, though.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents!

  7. Those cups DO add up. We use only use compostable cups at Small Point Café, and we actually get them composted when you bring them back to us. And we have mugs, cups and saucers in-house. Yacht Club soda is local and reuses their bottles. We get our milk from Christiansen's Dairy. They are local and reuse beautiful old wood and metal milk crates, and reusable classic glass milk bottles.

  8. "America runs (becomes despoiled) on Dunkin" This is above all else my pet peeve. Everytime I think I've found a beautiful, somewhat ecologically pure spot, what do I find? The Rhode Island state flower. I can't understand why the mega company doesn't get it. Individual behavior can rarely be changed but corporate behavior certainly can if by no other means than legislation but that comes down to us. No one talks about the effects of polystyrene in the environment but I'll wager were losing vast populations of lower order vertibrates, amphibians in particular, to reproductive interference directly linked to this crap. So long frogs and salamanders hello my hot cup of Dunkin joy. Don't get me started on plastic bags.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your support keeps our reporters on the environmental beat.

Reader support is at the core of our nonprofit news model. Together, we can keep the environment in the headlines.


We use cookies to improve your experience and deliver personalized content. View Cookie Settings