Winners of NextGen cup challenge announced

The NextGen Consortium, organised by Closed Loop Partners, has announced the winners of an open-sourced, global innovation challenge. pic: Starbucks

The NextGen Consortium, organised by Closed Loop Partners, has announced the winners of an open-sourced, global innovation challenge to redesign the fibre to-go cup and create a widely recycled or compostable cup. 

Starbucks, McDonald’s and others have partnered with the NextGen Consortium in this ‘pre-competitive’ collaboration to find innovative cup solutions.  


There will be a Design for Lifecycle Theatre at The Recycling Event on 2 July. Tickets are just £85+vat. Book yours now:

The Coca-Cola Company, Yum! Brands, Nestlé and Wendy’s have joined as supporting partners, with the World Wildlife Fund acting as an advisory member, and OpenIDEO as an innovation partner. 

After a four-month review by experts in the recycling and packaging sector and NextGen Consortium business leaders, the challenge narrowed the nearly 500 submissions from over 50 countries down to 12 winners. 

These 12 solutions have the potential to turn the 250 billion fibre to-go cups used each year from waste into a valuable material in the recycling system 

Starbucks senior vice president of global public affairs and social impact John Kelly said: “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. 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.” 

Up to six winners will enter the NextGen Circular Business Accelerator, where they’ll gain access to a network of experts, business and technical resources and testing opportunities to ensure these innovations can serve the needs of the sector and maintain performance standards. 

The Challenge is the first stage of the Consortium’s three-year effort.  

Next, the NextGen Circular Business Accelerator will help solutions get onto the shelf. The Consortium is working with suppliers, recyclers and composters to ensure that the winning solutions can get successfully recovered for the highest value. 

The 12 winners of the Challenge include: 

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

Category Two: New materials – This company is using plant-based materials in their cups so that they are compostable: 

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

Category Three: Reusable Cup service Models – These cups aren’t single-use, they just keep cycling:  

  • CupClub, UK – operates a returnable cup ecosystem, providing a service for drinks, similar to bike sharing, but for cups 
  • Recup GmbH, Germany – operates a deposit system for reusable cups, rent their cup and return it to any partner shop. No cleaning of the cup or carrying is required
  • Revolv – Indonesia, Hong Kong – operates a deposit-based platform for smart, reusable beverage packaging, connecting their cups and third-part products-to Internet of Things technologies.  

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