Whataburger embroiled in new beef with environmentalists over Styrofoam cups

Whataburger embroiled in beef with environmentalists over Styrofoam

Whataburger cup styrofoam
Whataburger's cups have come under fire. Whataburger/Facebook

Environmentalists have a beef with Whataburger over the fast food chain’s use of eco-unfriendly Styrofoam cups and containers. On November 19, representatives of Environmental Texas, the Sierra Club, and other environmental organizations delivered copies of an anti-Styrofoam petition with more than 50,000 signatures to Whataburger’s San Antonio headquarters as well as Whataburger restaurants in Austin and Corpus Christi.

The petition seeks a halt to Whataburger’s use of Styrofoam cups and containers. In a letter to Whataburger CEO Preston Atkinson, activists complain that millions of Styrofoam cups and containers — made of a type of plastic called polystyrene — end up in landfills every year.

They also express concern over the damage Styrofoam does to waterways in the 10 states where Whataburger operates restaurants. About one-third of these discarded cups and containers wind up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, endangering wildlife, creating an eyesore, and burdening taxpayers, the letter says.

“Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries,” the letter says. “To reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans, environment, and landfills, we need to dramatically reduce the amount of polystyrene handed to consumers every day.”

Cleanups at Texas beaches turn up tens of thousands of Styrofoam cups every year, including many from Whataburger, according to the letter. Research shows Texas has more trash on its beaches than any other state, the letter says.

“We were encouraged to learn that Whataburger recognizes the problem polystyrene poses to our environment and is investigating alternatives. We urge you to join with McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and many others, by committing to phase out the use of polystyrene cups and containers in your restaurants,” environmentalists say in the letter.

Whataburger issued this response:

“At Whataburger, we’re always looking for the best way to serve our customers and we value their feedback. We continue to look at cup alternatives that keep drinks at the right temperature but we have a lot to consider from a quality and supply perspective when meeting our customers’ expectations. We will share any updates if we have news to share. In the meantime, we continue to urge customers to properly dispose of our cups.”