Commend McDonald’s for Ditching Foam Cups

McDonald's Coffee

Target: McDonald’s President and CEO Don Thompson

Goal: Commend McDonald’s for making the switch from foam to paper cups for hot beverages

McDonald’s recently announced that it will no longer use cups made from polystyrene foam, which contain a known carcinogen, for its hot beverages.  The alternative that will be launched in all 14,000 of its restaurants is paper cups, which are safer and can be recycled.  This is a great move forward for the restaurant’s environmental sustainability.

Polystyrene foam is made from styrene, which has been known to cause central nervous system problems for workers who manufacture the material.  Notable symptoms from contact with styrene include headache, dizziness, fatigue, lack of concentration, and a feeling of intoxication.  It is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Furthermore, products made out of polystyrene foam do not biodegrade easily.  The material can stay in landfills for hundreds of years and is a major ocean polluter.  Once in the ocean, the foam breaks down into small pieces that are easily mistaken for food by birds and fish, and ends up killing them.  Because of the material’s environmental hazards, it has already been banned in food packaging in many cities across the country.

Paper is a much more suitable option for McDonald’s beverage containers because of its ability to break down faster than polystyrene foam, and to be recycled.   It is also a safer option, as it poses no health risks to the company’s workers.  Commend McDonald’s for switching to a safer, more environmentally friendly option for its cups.


Dear Mr. Thompson,

Thank you for switching from polystyrene foam cups to paper cups for your hot beverages.  This is a positive move forward for McDonald’s’ environmental sustainability.  Paper cups are more easily broken down than polystyrene foam and have the ability to be recycled.  This will impact landfills that would otherwise contain billions of foam cups for centuries to come, as well as oceans, where the foam ends up killing animals that mistake small pieces of the material for food.

Additionally, this environmentally-conscious move will also help your own workers’ health.  Styrene, the derivative for polystyrene cups, is a known carcinogen that causes central nervous system problems such as headache, fatigue, dizziness, and lack of concentration.  It is not a safe material to be manufacturing.  Implementing paper cups across the nation is a smart move for your business, your consumers, and the environment.  We commend you for making the choice to switch to paper.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Judy Baxter via Flickr

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