The company plans on reducing cup waste with its new “NextGen Cup Challenge.”

Jillian Kramer
March 20, 2018

On the heels of McDonald’s announcement that it will attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through new initiatives, another chain has joined the environmentalist fight: Starbucks hopes to reduce cup waste with the what the coffee giant has dubbed the “NextGen Cup Challenge.”

According to a press release, the challenge will offer grant money to people who can develop “sustainable cup solutions."

"The challenge will enable leading innovators and entrepreneurs with financial, technical, and expert resources to fast-track global solutions, help get those solutions to shelf, through the recovery system and back into the supply chain," Rob Kaplan, managing director of Closed Loop Partners, said in a statement.

The idea behind the challenge is that any winning concepts would be used at Starbucks’ stores. But Starbucks says in the release that “the solution will be open source so others can benefit and innovate on the path towards the development of recyclable and compostable cups around the world.” In other words, they’ll share.

Creating a recyclable, compostable cup is not easy. As of now, Starbucks’ cups contain just 10-percent recycled fiber—and a liner that keeps drinks hot but prevents the cups from being recycled and reused in the majority of U.S. cities and states. Any new concepts that come from the challenge will need to offer up recyclable liner ideas.

Starbucks is wise to get in on the sustainable container trend. In January, the U.K. announced it will mandate a 34-cent tax on all drinks served in a paper to-go cup. And a little more than a month later, Starbucks said it would charge an extra seven cents at 35 of its stores in London. (Those pennies were donated to Hubbub, an environmental charity.)