Diana Kelter
Diana is a Senior Trend Analyst at Mintel. She investigates how cultural, lifestyle and technology shifts take shape across sectors and leverages Mintel data across trend observations.

McDonald’s and Starbucks are working together to create a compostable cup. The two companies have joined forces to launch the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge in partnership with Closed Loop Partners, a company that invests in the circular economy. The competition launches in September and invites anyone to submit their idea for a new type of compostable cup. Seven winners will be selected to receive a six month accelerator programme to help turn their idea into reality and up to $1 million in funding will be provided.

Thinking outside of the cup

In the past year, companies have started making significant commitments to sustainability. Marriott announced the removal of plastic toiletry bottles in favour of bulk dispensers, and several brands and foodservice venues have banned plastic straws. The partnership between McDonald’s and Starbucks demonstrates that in order for sustainability to truly make progress, more companies have to start working together.

The impact of companies with this level of influence working together will set a massive tone for other operators to follow. More companies are thinking outside of the box when it comes to thinking about reusability. A snack bar company is utilising spent grain from breweries that would otherwise go to waste, and the shoe company Allbirds creates shoes from various renewable ingredients.

The NextGen Cup Challenge reveals that more companies are encouraging this level of innovative thinking not just internally, but to anyone with a solution.