Dunkin' Brands releases first Social Responsibility Report

Aug. 23, 2011 | by Alicia Kelso

Dunkin' Brands Group Inc., parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, has published its first Corporate Social Responsibility report, "Serving Responsibly." The report features an overview of Dunkin' Brands' current CSR initiatives, as well as key areas of focus for the future, such as nutrition, sourcing and packaging.

Highlighted topics include:

Nutrition: Dunkin' Brands established it Nutrition Advisory Board in 2007 and has since transitioned to zero grams transfat and launched "better choices" DDSmart and BRight Choices menus.

All DDSmart items are reduced in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar or sodium by at least 25 percent compared to a base product, and/or contain nutritionally beneficial ingredients. In 2008, Dunkin' Donuts became the first quick-service chain to rollout egg white sandwiches.

BRight Choices launched at Baskin-Robbins in 2009 and feature frozen yogurt, fat/dairy-free sorbet/ice products and reduced fat and calorie Premium Churned options.

Dunkin' Brands long-term nutritional goals include a continuation of the incorporation of better-for-you choice options on both menus; a review of advertising practices geared toward younger audiences to encourage balanced lifestyle options; and, for Baskin-Robbins specifically, establishing nutrition filters and revising the website to include nutrition content by 2013.

Packaging efforts: Dunkin' Brands' packaging composition includes 15 percent recycled paper; 15 percent paperboard; 17 percent miscellaneous paper; 24 percent plastic resins; and 24 percent foam cups.

In the report's introduction letter, CEO Nigel Travis wrote: "While we realize that the most prominent sustainability issue we must deal with is our Dunkin' Donuts foam cup. While there is currently no single-use hot beverage cup on the market that meets our criteria for performance cost and recyclability, we are committed to solving this and other packaging issues."

Some promising innovations, according to the report, include bioresins, but they're in development phase and aren't yet commercially available. To reduce waste in the interim, the company reduced the weight of the foam hot and plastic cold cups in 2009.

Travis said Dunkin' Brands has initiated a variety of in-store tests, including reusable mug programs and recycling programs for everything from cups to coffee grounds. A comprehensive strategy will be put into place in 2012 to achieve a sustainable cup solution, and a pilot test in-store foam cup recycling program will be in place by 2013.

Priority is also being placed on finding more sustainable alternatives to Baskin-Robbins' polystyrene pink spoons by 2013.

Sustainable ingredients: Dunkin' Donuts was the first national brand to sell espresso beverages made exclusively with 100-percent Fair Trade Certified coffee. By the end of 2010, Dunkin Brands purchased nearly 26 million pounds of Fair Trade Certified coffee and delivered about $1.9 million in premiums back to farming communities.

In the short- to mid-term, Dunkin' Brands plans to develop a holistic approach to sustainable sourcing of commodities that balances cost with sustainable filers; and create a sourcing filter to guide futures; and sourcing an additional certified commodity in 2012.

By 2013, the company is also aiming to establish an animal welfare policy and complete the feasibility and research of available quantities of cage-free eggs and gestation crate-free pork.

Green building: Dunkin' Donuts will open its second LEED certified store by the end of 2011 and, according to Travis, is "actively engaged in finding more sustainable building solutions that reduce costs for our franchisees while benefiting the environment."

The company plans to create sustainable building filter and goals for new construction next year, and to incorporate improved sustainable materials into Dunkin' Donuts' new store design.

Dunkin' Donuts' prototypes feature mandatory aerators on all faucets, specified new water-friendly fixtures and specified tankless "on-demand" hot water heaters. Ne wLED options are available on sign packages, and light harvesting control devices/sensors were also added.

Community and employees: Dunkin' Brands and its franchisees have given millions of dollars to non-profit organizations supporting a variety of local community causes, including Special Olympics, American Red Cross, The Jimmy Fund/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Toys for Tots and more. Also, throughout the past 15 years, the company and its franchisees have provided more than $3 million in scholarships to high school seniors and college students.

The Dunkin' Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation (DDBRCF) serves the needs of local communities through initiatives that provide food for the hungry, support children's health and wellness and ensure neighborhoods are safe. Since its inception in 2006, The DDBRCF has awarded more than $2 million in grants, and has established long-term partnerships with Feeding America, the USO, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Do Something.

Dunkin' Brands developed the Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) for employees and crew members, and launched training programs designed to highlight the EVPs in 2010.

On the radar is the launch of supplemental leadership training programs and feedback mechanisms to support leadership development at all levels; the development of a corporate EVP by 2012; and the reassessment of the new franchisee training process by 2013.

"We have made good progress in many areas, while recognizing there is still much more for us to do," said Karen Raskopf, Dunkin' Brands' senior vice president of communications and co-chair of the DDBRCF. "This report represents not only our achievements from the beginning of our CSR journey, but more importantly our commitment to continuing to address the social and environmental issues that face our business."

The full report is available online.

Read more about sustainability.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Coffee/Bakery/Donut , Equipment & Supplies , Health & Nutrition , Operations Management , Packaging , Social Responsibility , Sustainability

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.
View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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