We did it! Stand.earth’s two-year effort to get Starbucks to make a #BetterCup had an impact

February 27, 2019
Starbucks activists cheering

Winners announced today in the NextGen Cup Challenge to develop a recyclable and compostable paper cup.

By Jim Ace, Senior Campaigner, Stand.earth

We did this.

Today, leading coffee and quick serve restaurant brands took a major step toward recycling their single-use paper cups with today’s announcement of the winners of the first phase of the NextGen Cup Challengea global initiative to develop a recyclable and compostable paper cup.

Thank you for your support, and helping make this moment a reality. You played a major role in this campaign, and this win. After the sacrifices involved with an all-out two-year campaign, and having worked so hard to get the cup issue back on the radar, it is deeply gratifying to see this development.

As we said in our official response to today’s announcement: Billions of paper cups created from tens of millions of trees end up in landfills each year — trees that could otherwise help stabilize our climate but are instead cut down just so consumers can use something once and throw it away. This global trash problem requires leading brands like Starbucks and McDonald’s to adopt one of these groundbreaking recyclable and compostable cup technologies as quickly as possible.

Stand.earth launched its #BetterCup campaign in 2016 after Starbucks, which first pledged in 2008 to create a recyclable paper cup, continued to ignore its outsized contribution to the global trash problem. In March 2018, the coffee giant responded to Stand.earth and the growing global plastic pollution campaign by pledging $10 million to bring a recyclable and compostable cup to market in three years. In September 2018, Starbucks formally launched the NextGen Cup Challenge, and was joined by McDonald’s, Coca-Cola Company, Nestle, Yum! Brands, and Wendy’s.

Six of the 12 winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge will receive funding and participate in an accelerator program to help scale up and commercialize their solutions.

Stand.earth’s #BetterCup campaign proved the world wants a better cup. Now that there are viable recyclable and compostable cup technologies out there, leading brands should take the next step to ‘meet or beat’ Starbucks’ other pledges to help address our throw-away society: increasing the amount of reusable cups in stores while also creating paper cups with responsibly sourced fiber.

Check out today’s fantastic, in-depth coverage from CNN of the #BetterCup campaign: Forget plastic straws. Starbucks has a cup problem. Here’s a great quote from the article:

The single-use cup hasn’t inspired a comparable movement, but at least one advocacy group, Stand.Earth, has gone after Starbucks specifically. For two years, it ran protests outside of Starbucks’ headquarters, its stores and company events. The group built a wall made of paper cups and installed a 12-foot cup monster, with bloodshot eyes and raised arms, made of 1,000 paper cups. They even recorded a message from the monster, as well as a version of “Jingle Bells,” with these lyrics, performed by kids:

“Dashing through the cups, which used to be the woods, but you chopped them all down, so you could sell your goods.”

Even so, cups just aren’t widely seen as a menace … at least, not outside of Starbucks.