McDonald’s, Starbucks can adopt paper cup with less plastic right now

July 18, 2018 applauds McDonald’s announcement to join Starbucks in developing recyclable, compostable cup — but encourages companies to take immediate action while cup challenge continues

SEATTLE, WA — On Tuesday, McDonald’s announced it is joining the NextGen Cup Challenge launched by Starbucks earlier this year to bring a fully recyclable and compostable paper cup to market in three years.

Environmental organization — the group behind the Starbucks #BetterCup campaign and Seattle’s beloved Cup Monster — applauds the announcement but encourages the companies to take the pledge one step further by introducing a universally recyclable and reduced-plastic cup lining technology immediately. Multiple technologies are commercially available right now, some using 50% less plastic than paper cups already widely in use.

“Starbucks and McDonald’s set an admirable goal in committing to develop a game-changing technology like a fully recyclable and compostable cup. But we don’t want to wait three years for these companies to deliver on this promise. Instead, both companies can set their cafes apart right now by switching to a reduced-plastic and universally recyclable paper cup that is already on the market. The world is waking up to the plastic choking our oceans, and there’s no time to wait.” -Jim Ace, Senior Campaigner,

After Starbucks’ original announcement in March 2018 about the NextGen Cup Challenge, responded with reasonable suspicion that the coffee giant would follow through on its pledge. The announcement was the third commitment Starbucks has made on recyclable cups.

“Starbucks has broken its promise to make a recyclable coffee cup before. Because this is Starbucks’ third commitment, we intend to make sure they are held accountable. All eyes are on Starbucks and McDonald’s — if these companies follow through, it will change the worldwide cup market, and drastically help reduce the impact that plastic-lined paper cups have on our environment.” -Jim Ace, Senior Campaigner,’s 2017 report, “Trashed: The Secret of the Starbucks Cup”, explains how Starbucks cups cannot be processed in most recycling facilities because of their plastic lining. Instead, most of the 4+ billion cups Starbucks serves annually end up in landfills.

In March 2018, released its undercover trash-tracking project that follows Starbucks cups at three Denver locations from in-store recycling bins to the Denver landfill. 

Also in March 2018, joined more than a dozen leading environmental organizations in launching “Starbucks: Break Free From Plastic”— a global campaign to confront coffee giant on its plastic pollution problem. During the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Seattle, the groups delivered petition signatures from nearly 1 million people calling on Starbucks to take action on plastic pollution.


Media contacts: 

Virginia Cleaveland, Press Secretary,, 510-858-9902
Jim Ace, Senior Campaigner,, 510-290-2448