Starbucks and McDonald’s test Next Gen Cup competition designs – Fast Company

Starbucks and McDonald’s test Next Gen Cup competition designs – Fast Company

advertisement advertisement They’re some of the most powerful food and beverage companies in the world, and they’re all throwing their weight behind a collective effort to tackle a big problem: the 250 billion fiber cups that pile up in landfills each year, most of which will need 1, 000 years to biodegrade since they’re actually coated in a micro layer of polyethylene The goal? To create the ultimate disposable paper cup–one that can both be composted and recycled, anywhere in the world.I covered the project, called the Next Gen Cup Challenge, when it was announced last July. At that point, Closed Loop Partners–an investment firm that focuses on sustainability and is running the competition–was inviting startups around the world to pitch their cup designs and new materials. Now, we’re finally getting a look at some of the best.CupClub–what the company calls “bike sharing but for cups” [Photo: courtesy NextGen Cup Challenge]Since then, Closed Loop, with the assistance of the collaborative design platform OpenIdeo, has collected 500 submissions from 50 countries, and representatives from the food companies involved have picked the most promising 12 ideas to move on.These winners will share a $1 million grant and enter a virtual accelerator, working with factories ....

While polyethylene keeps paper waterproof, insulates a drink to keep it hot or cold, and can prevent sweaty condensation from building outside the cup, it’s also the primary component that keeps most paper cups from being recycled or composted.A second group of finalists proposes radical new paper composites that need no liner at all, allowing them to biodegrade or be recycled easily. And a third category proposes another direction entirely: reusable cups that can be collected after being used, through either a subscription or scout’s honor system at your local Starbucks.
One startup goes so far as to detail a high-tech cup with an RFID lid for managing its inventory inside a complicated venue like a stadium (which is an idea that’s been experimented with before).advertisement “The opportunity for the most immediate solution is the liner, ” admits Bridget Croke, vice president of external affairs at Closed Loop Partners. “It doesn’t completely prohibit recycling in some markets, but it’s the biggest barrier to scaling recycling. If we can remove that barrier . .

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