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McDonald's and Starbucks to create a compostable cup

Starbucks paper cup

Starbucks and McDonald's are high street competitors as far as selling coffee on the go is concerned, but they've put their differences aside to address a major packaging design (opens in new tab) problem that's been plaguing retailers and consumers alike. Earlier this week it was announced that this pair of mega-brands have joined forces to build a fully recyclable, compostable cup within the next three years as part of The NextGen Cup Consortium (opens in new tab).

With shoppers become increasingly eco-aware, this sure to be a welcome move. Recent initiatives have seen shoppers demand an end to single-use plastic straws, so it makes sense that Starbucks and McDonald's are wracking their brains to come up with a cup design that includes a lid and a straw. (See our best travel mugs (opens in new tab) to get hold of your own reusable coffee cup right now.)

Add the fact that Chipotle, Subway and Burger King have started charging for straws into the mix and the idea for a more sustainable, economic solution is a business no-brainer.

McDonalds logo

Photo by Joshua Austin (opens in new tab) on Unsplash (opens in new tab)

A new cup design isn't the first step Starbucks has made towards creating better packaging. Recently the coffee chain announced a 2020 initiative to ban straws altogether and replace them with lids. Even though both companies' cups are technically recyclable, in reality they're not always disposed of correctly.

Speaking of the partnership, Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks’ global social impact overseeing sustainability, said, “We’ve been at this for a while [alone], but we were getting tired of incrementality.”

The NextGen Cup Challenge, the initiative behind the replacement cup design, invites entrepreneurs to develop more sustainable designs. Grants are available to help develop good ideas, as well as to help startups combine them into market-ready solutions. Starbucks set it up earlier this year, with McDonald's joining recently.

With the weight of their combined brands behind the project, the pair hope to effect real change and shake-up how the fast-food industry tackles its ecological footprint.

"In food safety, there's no competitive advantage," says Marion Gross, the McDonald’s chief supply chain officer for the United States. "We all have to come with solutions and make sure we’re watching out for the public’s interest."

"It's a societal issue, and there's a way that we can come together, not as competitors, but as problem solvers. We can use our collective scale to make a difference."

[Via Fast Company (opens in new tab)]

[Photo by Charles Koh (opens in new tab) on Unsplash (opens in new tab)]

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Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.