McDonald’s joins NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge

The challenge invites participants to develop a recyclable and/or compostable cup.


The NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge, convened by Closed Loop Partners, New York City, has announced that McDonald’s, Chicago, joins Seattle-based Starbucks as a founding member of the group that seeks to develop a recyclable and/or compostable cup. This announcement follows recent commitments by both companies to drive innovation of their packaging and help reduce waste.

McDonald’s is committing $5 million to help launch the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge announced earlier this year, bringing the total funds dedicated to the challenge to $10 million. The challenge kicks off in September and invites innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts and recyclers to submit ideas for the next generation of recyclable and/or compostable cups. Awardees will receive acceleration funding up to $1 million based on key milestones. Up to seven of the awardees will enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions.

“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good to make positive changes that impact our planet and the communities we serve,” Marion Gross, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer of McDonald’s USA, says. “We are excited to join Starbucks and Closed Loop to help solve this pressing challenge as collaboration is key to finding a scalable, lasting global solution.”

NextGen is building a robust advisory council including environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Washington, human-centered design, academic leaders, the paper and plastic industry, recyclers, composters and municipalities, to ensure the work is grounded in the needs of the entire value chain and the cups make it from shelf to consumer and back through the recovery system to another high-value use.

Launching in September, The NextGen Cup Challenge, in partnership with OpenIDEO, San Francisco, California, is the first initiative in this journey. The NextGen Cup Challenge will be open to supply chain leaders, innovators and solution providers that have promising solutions to recovery of single-use cups, with a focus on the fiber-based hot and cold cup, starting with creating a fully recyclable and/or compostable cup in North America.

“To date, we have received more than 1,000 inquiries from companies and individuals interested in participating in the challenge and we anticipate some exciting and impactful proposals,” Kate Daly, executive director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, says. “In our experience investing in circular economy innovation, we find the most successful path to scaling a systems-changing solution is to bring together key players along the entire value chain in a precompetitive collaboration. This is the type of partnership we need to foster innovative solutions without sacrificing profit. We are working with consortium members to build a robust shared set of technical, performance and environmental criteria that we will announce later this summer.”

For more details on the consortium or challenge, visit