This month, Starbucks begins its first market tests of a recyclable and compostable hot cup solution as part of the NextGen Cup Challenge, which seeks to address single-use packaging waste by developing an industry-wide recyclable and compostable to-go cup solution. This is a step forward in the company’s journey to better manage its waste by ensuring more reuse and recycling.
In 2018, Starbucks, and co-founder McDonald’s, committed $10M in partnership with Closed Loop Partners to establish the NextGen Consortium and Cup Challenge. Additionally, Starbucks invested $5M in Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Fund that finances recycling and circular economy infrastructure across North America.
The NextGen Cup Challenge began with a six-month design competition that received hundreds of ideas from industry experts and cup scientists alike. From there, the Consortium then identified 12 winning teams to further work with on their potential to serve as solutions for various business models.
In March of 2019, Starbucks announced a commitment to conduct market tests with the cup technologies in select stores in five cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Vancouver and London. Starbucks then conducted months of internal research and development at their Tryer Center, putting the various cups through an array of tests for quality and performance measurements. In addition, the company evaluated manufacturing logistics, scalability, and pricing of each cup.