Building a Better McDonald’s, One Sustainable Cup at a Time

July 17, 2018

McDonald’s joins Starbucks & Closed Loop Partners in groundbreaking partnership to develop a recyclable and/or compostable cup solution through NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge

Each year, an estimated 600 billion paper and plastic cups are distributed worldwide. Most of these are not recyclable or compostable. As the world’s largest restaurant company, we have the responsibility and opportunity to take action on some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the world today. One of these challenges is packaging and waste. Our customers tell us that this is their number one environmental concern. We’re listening and taking action. In January, we announced new packaging and recycling goals and as part of these efforts, we’re excited to announce a groundbreaking new collaboration.

This week, we are joining forces with Starbucks to make a monumental change in packaging and waste by collaborating with Closed Loop Partners to provide a platform to develop a global recyclable and/or compostable cup solution. As a Convening Member of the ‘NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge,’ we have the opportunity to use our combined scale to identify solutions to bring to the forefront – and we hope others will join us. “McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good to make positive changes that impact our planet and the communities we serve,” said Marion Gross, Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, McDonald’s USA. “We are excited to join Starbucks and Closed Loop to help solve this pressing challenge as collaboration is key to finding a scalable, lasting global solution.”

Mark your calendars because in September, in partnership with OpenIDEO, the NextGen Cup Challenge will invite innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and recyclers to submit their ideas for the next generation of recyclable and/or compostable cup systems. Here is how it will work:

  1. McDonald’s is committing $5 million in partnership with Closed Loop Partners to help launch the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge announced earlier this year, bringing the total contributed to $10 million.
  2. The NextGen Cup Challenge will be open to supply chain leaders, innovators, solution providers and anyone with promising solutions to recover single use cups. The initial focus of the challenge is on the fiber-based hot and cold cup, starting with identifying solutions for a fully recyclable and/or compostable cup system in North America. 
  3. Awardees will receive acceleration funding up to $1 million based on key milestones. Up to seven of the awardees will enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions.
  4. Interested in seeing the innovators at work? Check out the NextGen Cup Challenge website and watch the progress yourself HERE.

NextGen builds on years of work in the industry and is a critical step in the development of a global end-to-end solution that will potentially allow the 600 billion cups globally to be diverted from landfills and given a second life.  NextGen is building a robust advisory council including leaders in environmental NGOs including WWF, human-centered design, academic leaders, the paper and plastic industry, recyclers, composters, and municipalities to ensure that the work is grounded in the needs of the entire value chain and the cups make it from shelf to consumer and back through the recovery system to another high value use.

For more information on how we are aiming to reduce global packaging and recycling as part of using our scale for good, be sure to check out our Packaging and Recycling Goals HERE.