As a Bostonian and Dunkin’ fan, I am glad that Dunkin’ Donuts has sustainability initiatives and evidence of progress in achieving these initiatives. The company values its Corporate Social Responsibility reputation, as they have credible certifications from Rainforest Alliance, World Coffee Research, and Sustainable Forest Initiative. Additionally, Dunkin’s has goals to continue improving energy efficiency/usage, offering plant-based products, and increasing recyclability of packaging.
Despite Dunkin’s seemingly positive sustainability reputation, I would like the company to be more transparent about its operations and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Dunkin’ is a major company with over 11,000 stores, and each store has associated greenhouse gas emissions! Since Dunkin claims to want to be more sustainable, I challenge the company to assign metrics to sustainability initiatives. Instead of Dunkin’ saying “We strive to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions”, I would prefer Dunkin’ to say, “We strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by X% by 20__, which means we will reduce carbon emissions by X tons.” The first claim is greenwashing, while the second claim is a company taking Corporate Social Responsibility.
Finally, how sustainable this product is depends largely on the consumer. Buying ground coffee in bulk and brewing at home is more sustainable than buying a single-use plastic cup every day. Using a reusable cup in a post-pandemic world is also better than using single-use plastic. While I hope consumers feel a little better about drinking Dunkin’ Donuts Medium Roast Coffee, don’t forget to take personal responsibility in recycling products and avoiding single-use plastic.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ Medium Roast Coffee is made of 100% Arabica coffee beans, which are sourced from Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
The plastic packaging can be recycled, which is a positive, but recycling isn’t always easy. Many recycling centers do not accept plastic, so plastic materials end up in landfill. That being said, consumers have the power to consume Dunkin’ coffee more sustainably by choosing to brew at home instead of buying out. This would reduce the amount of single-use plastic cups in landfill, and help consumers feel better about their ecological footprints.
The product is Rainforest Alliance certified, which means Dunkin’ measures its sustainability impacts from social, environmental, and economic perspectives. This certification is a positive sign that Dunkin’ values its sustainability reputation, as they measure their impacts further enabling progress; Dunkin’ can make legitimate sustainability goals because they know their starting impacts. Therefore, they can articulate how much they want to cut emissions or reduce food waste, which shows Dunkin’s seriousness about its sustainability initiatives.
I rate Dunkin’ Donuts Medium Roast Coffee at 2.5 planets, as coffee beans are one simple ingredient, and Dunkin’ makes an effort to sustainably source its coffee beans.
The life-cycle of Arabica coffee beans goes something like this: growers in South America (Brazil, Colombia, Peru+) grow and pick the coffee beans, these beans are shipped by boat to US coasts, put on railroad carts, and shipped to roasting companies. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee beans are roasted by Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA (MZB), and the company does quality assurance checks on all coffee beans. Then the beans are roasted, shipped, and eventually packaged. There is less information available about how the beans are packaged and distributed, so I would like to see more transparency in this regard.
Dunkin’ and The Rainforest Alliance claim the growing process is sustainable as it aligns with the growing season, which is a positive. Dunkin’ is also partnered with World Coffee Research, which certifies ethical labor and strives to advance the coffee industry. This is also a positive as it shows sustainability in labor. Nevertheless, Dunkin fails to be transparent in sharing the data it claims to collect; I could not find measures about how Dunkin’s operations affect global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. This makes me question how much action Dunkin’ truly takes to support their claimed sustainability values.
I rate the “How it’s made” section 1.5 planets as I am glad that Dunkin’ ensures ethical labor and grows coffee during growing season, which relieves environmental pressures. Nevertheless, every step in the process of obtaining the coffee beans has associated greenhouse gas costs, which is something I want Dunkin’ to be more transparent about; I need Dunkin’ to show me how it is making progress to achieve sustainability initiatives.
Dunkin’ has an entire page about their recycling initiatives, but it’s from 2017 and it emphasizes major flaws about the recycling industry itself. Dunkin’ Donuts claims to care about sustainability, and I found information about how they are incorporating more recyclable material into packaging. However, the same report emphasizes how increasing recyclability of products is expensive and not always worth the cost; products need to be recycled at specific facilities to complete their life-cycles. These facilities are not always located where Dunkin’ products are (everywhere!), so these products end up as landfill when consumers fail to complete their intended lifecycles (by recycling).
I commend Dunkin’ Donuts for its improvements on sustainability initiatives over time. The company committed to stop using foam cups by mid 2020, and the company achieved this goal and was then certified by the Sustainable Forest Initiative for this achievement. Dunkin’ also supports veganism and plant-based diets through its partnership with Beyond Meat; encouraging and enabling consumers to have plant-based diets is a positive trend for sustainability. Nevertheless, Dunkin’ fails to be transparent about its greenhouse gas emissions and energy metrics, which concerns me. The company has initiatives to cut energy efficiency by 25%, but I couldn’t find a specific timeline for executing this goal or any information about current energy usage.
I rate Dunkin’ at 1.5 planets. While I like how Dunkin’ got rid of Styrofoam cups and has sustainability initiatives, I am disappointed in the company’s lack of transparency in regards to operational impacts on global warming. Dunkin’ has over 11,000 stores, so collectively, this accounts for a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. I would like Dunkin’ to recognize this and create solutions to make its operations more sustainable.