Starbucks, McDonald’s must rapidly adopt new recyclable, compostable cup technology from NextGen Cup Challenge

February 27, 2019 #BetterCup campaign calls on leading brands to tackle global trash problem

SEATTLE, WA — Leading coffee and quick serve restaurant brands took a major step toward recycling their single-use paper cups with today’s announcement of the NextGen Cup Challenge winners, a global initiative to develop a recyclable and compostable paper cup. 

“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,” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director at 

International environmental organization 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 and a growing global plastic pollution campaign by pledging $10 millionto 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.

Up to 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. The 12 winners were split into three categories: innovative cup liners, new materials, and reusable cup service models.

Alongside Starbucks’ original 2008 pledge to make a recyclable paper cup, the coffee giant also pledged to serve 25% of drinks in reusable cups by 2015. Starbucks drastically reduced its commitment in 2011, now pledging to serve 5% of drinks in reusable cups by 2022.

“’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 and help address our throw-away society by increasing the amount of reusable cups in stores, while also creating paper cups with responsibly sourced fiber,” said Jim Ace, Senior Campaigner at


Media contact: Jim Ace, Senior Campaigner,, jimace@stand.earth510-290-2448