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Starbucks Launches $10 Million Recyclable Coffee Cup Challenge

By Publications Checkout
Starbucks Launches $10 Million Recyclable Coffee Cup Challenge

Starbucks is boosting its investment in developing recyclable coffee cups, by offering grants to entrepreneurs working to develop more sustainable cups.

The international coffee company is investing $10 million in partnering up with Closed Loop Partners and its Center for Circular Economy to launch the NextGen Cup Challenge.

The challenge is aimed at developing a “global end-to-end solution that would allow cups around the world to be diverted from landfills and composted or given a second life as another cup, napkin or even a chair – anything that can use recycled material,” according to Starbucks.

The Starbucks and Closed Loop Partners consortium will award accelerator grants to entrepreneurs working on ideas that could lead to the development of more sustainable cup solutions and, invite industry participation and partnership on the way to identifying a global solution, according to the coffee company.

"Through this partnership, 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" said Rob Kaplan, managing director of Closed Loop Partners.


Open Source

The development of the solution will remain open source throughout the process, so that others can benefit and innovate towards the development of recyclable and compostable cups around the world, according to Starbucks.

“We want to make sure this technology is available to everyone because it’s the right thing to do,” said Andy Corlett, director of packaging R&D for Starbucks. “The idea of environmental sustainability in packaging is not just a Starbucks issue. It’s a global issue. Anything that gets us closer to that goal is not something we want to keep to ourselves.”

The coffee company said it will continue its own internal research into more sustainable cups, including the trial of a new bio-liner made partially from plant-based materials for its paper cup.

Recycled Fibre

Starbucks cups are currently manufactured with 10% post-consumer recycled fibre. The cup’s inside is coated with a thin liner designed to meet quality and safety standards, including preventing leaks, according to Starbucks.

Currently, Starbucks cups are recyclable in several cities across the US, including its native Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York City.


“Developing a plant-based liner that stands up to hot liquids and is commercially viable is incredibly hard, but we believe the solution is out there, not just for cups but for other exciting applications, like making straws greener, in the future,” said Rebecca Zimmer, director of global environmental impact.

The Irish Government has proposed a 15c 'Latte Levy' on disposable cups to encourage reusable cups. Meanwhile, the UK has rejected a similar proposal of a 25p levy, saying that shop owners could offer discounts to people bringing in their own cups, rather than a tax on all cups.

© 2018 - Checkout Magazine by Kevin Duggan

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