Last week, Starbucks announced its plans to eliminate their usage of plastic straws by the year 2020. This week, Starbucks and McDonald’s, arguably the two biggest names in the fast food service industry, announced their plan to join Closed Loop Partners in efforts to develop a cup made from sustainable materials. The development partnership between the three is called the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge, their goal is to “dramatically slash waste via the development of compostable and fully recyclable cups.”
There has been increasing pressure for the food and beverage industry to reduce plastic usage and provide more sustainable materials, for good reason. Over 600 Billion paper and plastic cups are produced each year, with most of them ending up in already overcrowded landfills. Closed Loop Partners is an investment company that “invests in sustainable consumer gsoods, advanced recycling technologies and the development of the circular economy,” according to their website. Through various endeavors such as the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge, they anticipate to reduce more then 8 Million tons of waste, eradicate over 16 Million tons of greenhouse gases and save American cities almost USD 60 Million. The NextGen Cup project launched in March with a USD 5 Million pledge from Starbucks, which was matched by McDonalds earlier this week.
The challenge is open to all—companies, individuals, innovators—with a promising solution to single use cup waste. There will be seven awardees, granted up to USD 1 Million to enter a six-month accelerator program. The goal is to develop a cup made from sustainable materials—recyclable, compostable or both. Considering practicalities, it should also be able to be mass produced and be able to withstand hot and cold liquids while meeting FDA standards. The challenge launches in September 2018.