McDonalds join Starbucks consortium to end cup waste

Two of the world’s largest food and beverage retailers will identify and commercialise a recyclable and compostable cup which can be used globally.

The NextGen Cup Challenge aims to offer promising solutions on the recovery of single-use cups, with a focus on the fiber-based hot and cold cup, and working to create a fully recyclable and/or compostable cup in North America.

McDonalds has joined Starbucks, the founding member of the group, to form part of The NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge. It follows recent commitments by McDonalds and Starbucks to turn to more sustainable packaging solutions.

The $5 million investment by McDonalds brings the total project fund to $10 million, which kicks off in September and invites innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and recyclers to submit their ideas for the next generation of recyclable and/or compostable cups.

Awardees will receive acceleration funding up to $1 million based on key milestones. Up to seven of the awardees will enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions.

“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good to make positive changes that impact our planet and the communities we serve,” said Marion Gross, Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, McDonald’s USA.

“We are excited to join Starbucks and Closed Loop to help solve this pressing challenge as collaboration is key to finding a scalable, lasting global solution.”

Colleen Chapman, vice president of Global Social Impact focused on sustainability for Starbucks, said that a better cup will benefit the entire industry and the company invite others to join them as we move their efforts forward.

NextGen builds on years of work in the industry and is a critical step in the development of a global end-to-end solution that will potentially allow the 600 billion cups globally to be diverted from landfills and given a second life.

The consortium is building a robust advisory council including leaders in environmental NGOs including WWF, human-centered design, academic leaders, the paper and plastic industry, recyclers, composters, and municipalities to ensure that the work is grounded in the needs of the entire value chain and the cups make it from shelf to consumer and back through the recovery system to another high value use.

“There has never been a greater need to tackle the ways in which we source and recover materials. McDonald’s participation is a strong step forward in building momentum from major brands to come together and develop innovative approaches to materials waste,” said Erin Simon, Director of Sustainability Research and Development (R&D) and Material Science at World Wildlife Fund, U.S.

“Working together across the entire value chain of these major companies will allow us to create a comprehensive and lasting solution to this critical conservation challenge.”

“To date we have received more than 1000 inquiries from companies and individuals interested in participating in the challenge and we anticipate some exciting and impactful proposals,” said Kate Daly, Executive Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners.