NextGen Cup Challenge winners announced

NextGen Cup Challenge winners announced

Kotkamills Oy, Finland, creates plastic-free, recyclable and compostable cupstock material that can be processed into cups at existing cup making machines.

The NextGen Consortium, convened by Closed Loop Partners, has revealed the winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge – an open-sourced, global innovation challenge to redesign the fiber to-go cup and create a widely recyclable and/or compostable cup.

These 12 winning solutions — broadly categorised into innovative cup liners, new materials, and reusable cup service models — have the potential to turn the 250 billion fiber to-go cups used annually from waste into a valuable material in the recycling system.

“This is a notable milestone to achieve our aspiration of sustainable coffee, served sustainably which is a particular passion for our over 350,000 Starbucks partners,” said John Kelly, senior vice president of global public affairs and social impact at Starbucks. “We’re a founding partner of the NextGen Consortium because we believe it will take the scale and influence of many global companies to make recyclable, compostable to-go cups an industry standard rather than the exception.”

Many of the largest players in the food and beverage industry have united within the NextGen Consortium, making it a unique pre-competitive collaboration, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, The Coca-Cola Company, Yum! Brands, Nestlé and Wendy’s. The World Wildlife Fund acts as an advisory member of the Consortium, and OpenIDEO is an innovation partner.

“McDonald’s is proud to work with such an unprecedented number of brands to address the issue of fiber to-go cups,” said Marion Gross, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer, McDonald’s USA. “Collaboration is what we need to truly move the needle, amplify impact and bring solutions to scale quickly.”

The NextGen Challenge solutions are advancing the transition to a more circular economy where materials are continuously cycled and reliance on raw materials is reduced.  “By working across the entire value chain and engaging key stakeholders, winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge are tackling a complex problem in a holistic way, sending valuable material back into the supply chain – benefiting people, the planet, and businesses,” said Erin Simon, director, sustainability R&D, World Wildlife Fund.

Challenge winners will be awarded a portion of up to $1 million in funding and up to six will receive extra support to prepare for real-world use.

The 12 Winners of the Challenge

Category One: Innovative Cup Liners – these companies are rethinking the polyethylene plastic liners in cups that can currently make to-go cups difficult to recycle.

  • C.E.E.R. SCHISLER, France, creates a 100% paper cup that is home compostable and recyclable.
  • Colombier Group, Netherlands, Finland, creates a recyclable and compostable barrier for paperboard cups.
  • Footprint US, USA, creates cups, lids and straws that are fully formed fiber-based solutions, with an aqueous-based coating that is recyclable and compostable.
  • Kotkamills Oy, Finland, creates plastic-free, recyclable and compostable cupstock material that can be processed into cups at existing cup making machines.
  • PTT MCC Biochem Company Limited, Thailand, creates a coated paper cup that is recyclable and home compostable.
  • Solenis LLC, USA, Belgium, creates a barrier coating that is recyclable and compostable.
  • Sun Chemical Corporation, USA, creates inks and coatings that are recyclable and compostable.
  • WestRock Corporation, USA, creates a recyclable and compostable paperboard solution to cups.

Category Two: New Materials – these companies are using cutting edge, plant-based materials in their cups so that they are compostable.

  • Solublue Ltd., UK, creates plant-based, food grade and non-toxic products that biodegrade after use.

Category Three: Reusable Cup Service Models – the cups made by these companies aren’t single-use, they just keep cycling – remaining in service by harnessing the power of technology and design.

  • CupClub, UK, operates a returnable cup ecosystem, providing a service for drinks. Think bike sharing, but for cups.
  • reCup GmbH, Germany, operates a deposit system for reusable cups. Rent their cup and return it to any participating partner shop. No cleaning of the cup or carrying around required.
  • Revolv, Indonesia, Hong Kong (China), operates a deposit-based platform for smart, reusable beverage packaging, connecting their cups–and third party products–to Internet of Things technologies.

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