Starbucks customers go through about 4 billion to-go cups every year — and almost all of those end up in a landfill. While it would seem the paper cups could easily be recycled, they are lined with non-recyclable plastic to help keep your coffee warm and the cup from leaking.
But the Seattle-based coffee giant is finally taking steps to make the world a little greener. They’ve teamed with Closed Loop Partners, a group that invests in recycling technologies and sustainable goods, to create the NextGen Cup Challenge.
The challenge will offer $10 million in grants to innovative entrepreneurs “working on ideas that could lead to the development of more sustainable cup solutions.”
Current cups are made with 10 percent post-consumer recycled fiber, so depending on where you live, they might be partially recyclable, but the goal is to create a fully recyclable and even compostable cup no matter what corner of the country, or globe, you enjoy your Starbucks.
Starbucks previously dabbled with other sustainability projects. Last summer they unveiled a new lid for their Nitro Cold Brew product in an effort to eliminate straws — Americans use more than 500 million straws every day, according to the National Park Service.
Starbucks’ internal R&D teams will also participate in tackling the cup problem. Currently, they are testing out a new bio-liner made of plant-based materials. The liner will go through internal testing to determine whether the new liner can hold up to the stringent safety requirements and quality standards required of a vessel that holds hot liquids.
Rebecca Zimmer, director of global environmental impact at Starbucks commented in a press release, “Developing a plant-based liner that stands up to hot liquids and is commercially viable is incredible hard, but we believe the solution is out there.”
Also see, The secret behind Starbucks apron colors.