Starbucks and McDonald’s Lead Search For Plastic Cup Alternative

Starbucks and McDonald’s Lead Search For Plastic Cup Alternative


Starbucks and McDonald's partner

Both committed to helping rid the world of the plastic straw, McDonald’s and Starbucks are teaming up to tackle the elimination of another plastic waste scourge: the plastic cup.

Putting sustainability and corporate responsibility at the heart of their brands, the global brands are joining forces to end cup waste by sponsoring the design of a fully recyclable, compostable cup within three years, Fast Company reported—one that may include not just the cup itself but a lid and straw to go along with it.

Launched in March 2018, the NextGen Consortium and Challenge is convened by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy. Consortium members Starbucks and McDonald’s are now inviting other companies to join them in the quest to develop global recyclable and compostable cup solutions.

The initiative will grant money to promising ideas and even help startups work together to come up with market-ready solutions. Starbucks signed on as a sponsor of the NextGen Cup Consortium and its Challenge earlier this year, and now McDonald’s is joining.

“We’ve been at this for a while, but we were getting tired of incrementality,” Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks’ global social impact overseeing sustainability, commented on the power of partnering and collaborating with peers.

While McDonald’s and Starbucks compete fiercely for coffee customers both in foodservice settings and in grocery aisles with their pre-packaged brands (though Starbucks’ CPG offering is now licensed by Nestle after a $7.2 billion deal earlier this year), they have been talking for years about how to cooperate on environmental initiatives.

“When they made their announcement, we thought this would be a great way for us to join something that would have a positive impact, and do it in a really big way,” said Marion Gross, McDonald’s chief supply chain officer in the U.S. “Two big organizations coming together, and hopefully many more will join. We would love to see that, because we think that together we can make a difference here.”

Once it launches in September, the challenge will enter awardees into a six-month accelerator program, where they’ll receive up to $1 million in funding as the startups work with members of the two big companies to develop approaches that can withstand the rigors of real-world use and scale.

The partnership follows up recent moves by both chains to eliminate plastic straws. Starbucks announced a new lid to replace straws in many drinks as part of an initiative to ban straws altogether by 2020, while McDonald’s is moving in the direction to replace straws eventually.


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