Each year, an estimated 600 billion paper and plastic cups are distributed globally.  Recycled paper and plastics have value in the market, but today, most cups end up in the landfill.

The NextGen Cup Consortium is a groundbreaking group led by Starbucks and McDonald’s committed to solving this challenge.

Building on years of industry work, the Consortium is a crucial step to advance a global end-to-end solution that enables cups to be composted or recycled and given a second life.

Through an innovation challenge and accelerator program, we aim to:

  • Identify and commercialize existing and future recovery solutions for environmentally friendly single-use hot and cold paper cups
  • Ensure single-use cups are recaptured with the highest material value through recycling and/or composting
  • Minimize raw material use
  • Encourage reusability

The NextGen Consortium and Challenge is convened by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy. Consortium members include Starbucks and McDonald’s. We invite companies to join us to find a global solution.

Sign up here to receive announcements about the challenge, consortium and advisory council members, partner opportunities and more.


NextGen Cup Challenge and Accelerator

The NextGen Cup Challenge is open to innovators and solution providers with promising designs for 100% single-use cups.  Awardees receive grant funding up to $1 million based on key milestones.  Up to seven awardees enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions.

Value Chain Engagement

The Consortium works across the value chain – with municipalities, material recovery facilities, pulpers and paper cup manufacturers – to ensure we provide viable market solutions that get through the supply chain and bring value to the recovery system.


The Challenge launches in September 2018. Submission details and criteria coming soon!
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Each year, an estimated 600 billion paper and plastic cups are distributed globally.  While recycled paper and plastics have value in the market today, most cups end up in the landfill.

Industry needs to work together to invest in and accelerate emerging solutions from innovators and supply chain leaders while coordinating with the recovery system to ensure acceptability.

Challenge winners receive a grant up to $1 million. Awardees can also participate in a six-month accelerator cohort to help scale their solutions with support and mentorship from investors, packaging and supply chain leaders, prospective customers and business leaders.

Fiber based cups are technically recyclable and accepted in some markets today. Organizations like the Food Packaging Institute work to build markets and ensure acceptability for currently available cups. We believe recoverability can improve by developing a cup that can be successfully processed in both recycling and composting streams. This solution increases the value and economic viability of the material coming through the recycling system to ensure that recyclers want this material.

Consortium members actively test new compostable and recyclable cups that come to market, sharing feedback with innovators and working to help them understand industry needs.  Unfortunately, no new material to date has proven commercially viable and able to meet the industry’s strict health and safety standards.

The long-term goal of the Consortium is to solve a range of waste challenges through collective action.  Our initial focus is the cup system, which includes the hot and cold fiber cup and possible solutions for straws and lids. We will prioritize solutions that apply across multiple single-use packaging cases.

Reducing the need for disposable packaging is a critical part of reducing waste.  At that same time, consumers desire a single-use cup and want that cup to be recyclable and/or compostable. The NextGen Challenge focuses on identifying recyclable and compostable solutions and we are excited to explore new delivery systems that reduce the need for disposable cups.

Closed Loop Partners has industry expertise in identifying innovative delivery models, hyper-compostable packaging materials and recycling innovations that help scale new technology and business models to minimize waste and build a circular economy. The Closed Loop Fund invests in recycling infrastructure and has a deep understanding of the needs of the recovery system.

The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners focuses on accelerating innovative technologies and business models to create more circular supply chains. Based in New York City, the Center is a collaboration hub for innovators to commercialize products, services and technologies to lead the transition from a linear take, make, waste economy to a restorative one in which materials are shared, re-used and continuously cycled.

The Center for the Circular Economy is an initiative of Closed Loop Partners