A successful cup solution must work for people, planet and business. Submissions to the Cup Challenge were evaluated according to the following criteria.


Your idea should work for people and meet or exceed the food-service industry’s safety, health and performance requirements.


Your idea should minimize the use of virgin material and favor ethical, recycled and sustainable materials. It should also enable materials to be recaptured at their highest value through recycling or composting.


Your idea should have a path to scale, work for the entire cup value chain and be globally applicable or target specific regional infrastructures.

What We Looked For

The NextGen Cup Challenge aimed to push the boundaries of sustainable design and material innovation to solve a prevalent global waste issue. We looked for cup ideas that will work now and in the future as recovery infrastructure improves. Materials used in solutions had to be ethically and sustainably sourced, contain recycled content and consider how disposal or reuse would be globally applicable or bespoke to regional needs.

What We Provided

Designing a more sustainable fiber cup that’s accessible to the entire foodservice industry requires cross-sector collaboration from designers, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and more. Throughout the Challenge, we supported participants with technical standards and material information, access to experts and toolkits to guide innovation and prototyping. Early- and growth-stage Challenge awardees received funding and joined our Business Accelerator program.

Investors, packaging, recovery and supply chain experts and business leaders provided piloting and testing opportunities for Accelerator participants and large companies not in the Accelerator. The goal was to commercialize and scale ideas and align them with the current and future interests of up- and downstream stakeholders.

Challenge Journey


Started on September 25, 2018

Ideas Phase

Started on October 9, 2018

Review Phase

Started on November 17, 2018

Refinement Phase

Started on December 7, 2018

Final Review Phase

Started on January 18, 2019

Top Ideas Announcement

February 27, 2019